Jerome Simpson, the Vikings’ leading receiver through five games, was asked to explain his feelings about getting ready for a third starting quarterback in the past four games. He paused to gather his thoughts. Then he paused some more.
“Well,” he finally said, “Coaches made their decision. We’re just going to roll with it and try to make plays.”
Simpson’s hesitancy didn’t appear to be the result of any doubts or distrust of Josh Freeman, who will make his Vikings debut as the starting quarterback in Monday night’s game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
No, the hesitancy appeared to be the result of, well, not really knowing Freeman. After all, the guy was named the starter Wednesday, which was 10 days after he signed with the team, seven days after he met most of his teammates and the same day he took his first practice reps with the first-team offense.
So it was understandably honest when Simpson drew a blank when asked to evaluate Freeman’s strengths.
“That’s something you’re going to have to ask me later in the week because right now we’re just trying to get on the same page,” Simpson said. “That’s something I can’t really make a comment on right now because I really don’t know too much about him.”
Simpson leads the team in catches (23) and receiving yards (372). He caught 12 passes for 218 yards from Christian Ponder and 11 passes for 154 yards from Matt Cassel. He had a 100-yard game with both quarterbacks and was asked how long it would take to develop a chemistry with Freeman.
“Hopefully, we can get it in a week,” he said.
Felton: Not like 0-16 Lions
While Simpson said he’s never experienced three starting quarterbacks in one season, Vikings fullback Jerome Felton has. He was on the 2008 Lions team that started Dan Orlovsky (0-7), Daunte Culpepper (0-5) and Jon Kitna (0-4) during the only 0-16 season in league history.
“We had like five of them [play] that year,” Felton said. “There was Orlovsky, Culpepper, Kitna, Drew Stanton and one other one I forget [Drew Henson].”
Orlovsky was the guy who gave Jared Allen the easiest sack of his career, stepping out of the back of the end zone by mistake while eluding Allen at the Metrodome. In keeping with the Lions’ luck that year, that safety came in a game they lost by two points, 12-10.
“That was a rough year because guys were getting hurt and we were signing quarterbacks off the street who had been out of the game,” Felton said.
“This situation here is kind of unique with Josh becoming available. So I definitely wouldn’t compare this to that situation in Detroit. That was worse. Trust me. Definitely worse.”
Peterson absent again
For the second time in less than a week, running back Adrian Peterson was excused from Wednesday’s practice for personal reasons.
Peterson missed practice last Thursday to visit his 2-year-old son in the hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. The boy died a day later from injuries sustained from an alleged beating from the boyfriend of the boy’s mother.
Asked if Peterson’s absence on Wednesday was related to the situation in South Dakota, Frazier said, “It’s a personal matter for Adrian.”
Frazier said he expects Peterson to return to practice on Thursday.
Smith misses practice, too
Free safety Harrison Smith, who suffered a turf toe injury in the second half of Sunday’s loss to Carolina, missed practice on Wednesday. He was still in a walking boot when he left the locker room for a doctor’s appointment. He said he felt “all right” but wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury.
• Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) did practice. Rhodes sprained his ankle in Sunday’s game but returned for a while before leaving again when the game got out of reach.
• Frazier said he will update the team’s injuries on Thursday, the first day that teams playing Monday night need to issue an injury report.