Their leading receiver and leading tackler are rookies. Their quarterback is 23. But the face of the Vikings franchise is a 30-year-old running back with a sense of urgency and word of warning to the whippersnappers who might take this year’s playoffs for granted.
Years go by in a blink, running back Adrian Peterson essentially is telling younger teammates this week. He arrived in 2007 and made the playoffs for the first time a year later. All these years later and he’s still stuck on one postseason win in four tries and more non-playoff seasons (five) than playoff seasons (four).
“And here we are now, 2016, and here I am now 30,” Peterson said Thursday during a break in preparing for Sunday’s NFC wild-card game against Seattle. “I don’t know how much longer I’m going to play, but you know you kind of look back and say, ‘Wow, we really haven’t had too many opportunities.’ … You’re able to see how fast time can go without being able to make it into the postseason.
“So the sense of urgency is definitely there on behalf of [the veterans]. That’s why we’ve been coaching these young guys to be prepared and not take it for granted.”
Of the six NFC playoff teams, the Vikings have the second-youngest 53-man roster with an average age of 26.8. The Packers are the youngest (26.4) and the Panthers are the oldest (27.7).
Will Sunday be Flag Day?
Walt Coleman, who has more seniority than any NFL official, will head the crew for Sunday’s game. Coleman is in his 27th season as an official and 21st as a referee.
The Vikings were the league’s least penalized team (88 for 797 yards), but were called for 10 penalties in both games Coleman’s crew worked — losses at Denver and at home to the Packers. According to ESPN, Coleman’s crew led the league in calling offensive pass interference penalties (13) and tied for calling the most combined offensive and defensive pass interference penalties (32).
Cold is NFL hot topic
Just how cold will it get Sunday in Minneapolis? That appears to be a hot topic in NFL circles.
In Arizona, Cardinals receiver and Twin Cities native Larry Fitzgerald Jr. was no doubt warm and cozy when he was asked about Sunday’s game, which could become one of the coldest games in NFL history.
“That’s home,” Fitzgerald said. “It is what it is. Last I checked, every human being has the same body temperature. So if it’s cold for you, it’s cold for me, it’s cold for him, it’s cold for everybody. We all, at the end of the day, are human, right?”
Asked if he’d enjoy playing in zero degrees, Fitzgerald said, “If the ball is coming my way, I don’t mind playing in anything.”
Injury concerns minimal
The only Viking who appears unlikely to play is backup nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who missed practice again Thursday because of an ankle injury. The team promoted rookie defensive lineman B.J. DuBose from the practice squad on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Peterson (lower back) also sat out practice again Thursday, but coach Mike Zimmer and Peterson both said the running back will play and be fine. This is standard late-season protocol for Peterson.
“I’ll be ready to roll,” Peterson said.
Zimmer also said nose tackle Linval Joseph “should be good to go.” Joseph has missed four of the past five games, including last week, because of a toe injury. He was limited again Thursday.
In other injury news, defensive end Everson Griffen (shoulder) was limited again but still on schedule to play, while fullback Zach Line returned from an illness and was taken off the injury report.