When it comes to confronting defenders physically on game day, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson can run past, around or through them. When it comes to handling the hype mentally three days beforehand, the NFL rushing leader did OK there as well on Thursday.
Coach Mike Zimmer refers to media adoration in good times as “cheese.” Players nibbling too hard on the cheese risk being clobbered when the trap snaps shut on game day.
With the Vikings at 7-2 with a five-game winning streak and the Packers 6-3 with a three-game losing streak, there was a lot of cheese being laid out for Peterson on Thursday.
Asked if he sensed a shifting of power in the NFC North, Peterson said, “It kind of brings a smile to think about that, but you can’t get caught up in that [hype].”
When talk of the longtime rivalry came up, Peterson made sure to keep the pressure on the other side of the border.
“Normally, here in the past couple of years, Green Bay has been the team to beat and honestly I do still feel like they are the team to beat,” Peterson said. “We don’t take lightly what they did before they got on a three-game losing streak. They’re going to come in ready to play. They got Aaron Rodgers so they always have a chance. … We’re not fooled.”
Kalil sits again
A toe injury sidelined left tackle Matt Kalil for all of practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday. Rookie Austin Shepherd filled in during the brief open part of practice.
Asked if he thinks Kalil will play on Sunday, Zimmer said, “I assume so.” He also wondered aloud about the value of asking him injury questions when reporters “know I’m not going to say if they’re going to play or not.”
Nonetheless, Zimmer later said, “I expect [Kalil] to play.”
Meanwhile, in other injury news:
• Defensive tackle Tom Johnson (concussion), running back Matt Asiata (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee/ankle) went from limited participation Wednesday to full participation Thursday.
• Still limited in practice were Peterson (hamstring) and linebacker Anthony Barr (hand/knee).
• Everyone else had full participation for the second day in a row, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (non-throwing shoulder) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (ribs).
Goodell to attend game
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be in town on Sunday. He’ll start the day by visiting the Vikings’ proposed practice facility site in Eagan before taking his first tour of U.S. Bank Stadium and attending the Vikings-Packers game at TCF Bank Stadium.
Goodell will take part in a fan forum and field questions from selected season-ticket holders at the preview center across the street from the new stadium.
Goodell is expected to watch the first half of the game from the stands.
Fusco’s best game?
Linemen tend to get pats on the back in the days that follow rushing performances that include 263 yards and an 8-yard average per carry. That includes left guard Brandon Fusco, who has admitted that his transition from career right guard to left guard this season has been inconsistent.
“I thought he had his best game on Sunday,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “Coach [Mike Zimmer] gave him a game ball. He and the center [Joe Berger] and right guard [Mike Harris]. This is a week-to-week league. I think he’s playing more comfortably at left guard.”
Barr testing bad hand
If you thought there were times when Barr played one-handed against the Raiders, you’re not alone. Barr admitted Thursday that he was favoring his painful left hand, which has been in a cast or heavily padded since the Rams game two weeks ago.
“It’s subconscious sometimes,” he said. “I don’t even think about it and I’m [favoring it]. It’s been a focus of mine to use it during practice this week and consequently in the game.”
• The Vikings practiced indoors Thursday, but not because of the cold. It was too windy, Zimmer said.