Adrian Peterson won’t play Sunday in the Vikings’ season finale against the Bears.
The 31-year-old Peterson may have played his final snap in Minnesota as he enters an offseason of uncertainty with a surgically repaired right knee and a groin injury he picked up in his Dec. 18 return from the September knee operation. Peterson played 12 snaps against the Colts and sat out last weekend, when the Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention in Green Bay.
Peterson did not practice this week, so Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata again will lead the Vikings’ last-place rushing attack. They currently sit with the second-worst average (3.1 yards per carry) in franchise history.
“It improved throughout the season, but we never really got it going,” McKinnon said. “There’s been ups and downs this whole season, and I think us not being able to run the ball like we’d like to kind of hurt us.”
A lackluster ground game has been a drag all season on the Vikings’ 30th-ranked offense. Peterson, the NFL’s reigning rushing champion, mustered only 1.6 yards per attempt on 31 carries before suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee in Week 2 against Green Bay.
Peterson, who turns 32 in March, is due a lofty, non-guaranteed $18 million next season in the final year of his contract.
Fusco set to return
Guard Brandon Fusco said he expects to return to the right side of the offensive line Sunday after sitting out the previous two games because of a concussion — his second brain injury this season.
Fusco took the blow while diving low at Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith on a screen play. He was upgraded to a full participant in Friday’s practice.
“This was my second one, so I wanted to be more cautious,” Fusco said. “Messing with your brain is no joke.”
Safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) has also been ruled out. Three others are doubtful to play against the Bears.
Receiver Stefon Diggs (hip), guard Alex Boone (low back) and receiver Laquon Treadwell (ankle) are unlikely to play on Sunday. Without Boone, the Vikings offense will likely start its eighth different line combination of the season. Because of the injured receivers, the Vikings will promote Isaac Fruechte to the active roster ahead of Sunday’s game, according to his agent, Blake Baratz.
Second-year safety Anthony Harris is expected to make his third start this season alongside Harrison Smith, who was upgraded to a full participant in Friday’s practice.
“I just want to prove to anybody who’s watching that I’m a player,” Harris said.
Kicker hopes to stick
Kai Forbath was tossed into the Vikings’ spiral, though kicking hasn’t been the reason for their slide.
Forbath did miss his third extra point attempt last weekend in Green Bay, but he’s made all 14 field goal attempts since taking over for Blair Walsh in Week 11. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Forbath should be considered for the long-term job when looking ahead to the 2017 season.
“So far so good,” Forbath said. “I’ve had a comfortable year. Just trying to have one more good game and end on a good note here and let the rest take care of itself.”
‘Next step’ for Waynes
Mike Zimmer anticipates the next step for cornerback Trae Waynes heading into his third NFL season will come from the mental side of things.
“I think he has done a good job. I think he has played better technique,” Zimmer said. “His next development will come with understanding more about the game as opposed to just playing corner.”