The Vikings and Green Bay Packers have been holding semiannual head-butting sessions for a long, long time. But with the Packers dominating the Vikings in recent years, the rivalry has lost a little intensity and a lot of suspense.
At least one prominent Packers player, though, thinks the resurgent Vikings could make this one-sided relationship, well, a legitimate rivalry again.
“[It] definitely has the potential to turn into an even healthier rivalry,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday on a conference call. “There’s always been a great rivalry between the [NFC North] teams. But you can tell with a young, talented quarterback in Teddy [Bridgewater] and some very young talent on defense, this has the potential to be the premier rivalry in the North if things keep going the way they are going.”
The Vikings are 1-9-1 against the Packers in this decade, losing by an average margin of 16.3 points. Only 17 of the 53 players on the Vikings’ active roster were around the last time they beat the Packers, back in 2012.
Rodgers and the Packers, meanwhile, have won four consecutive division titles.
“They are where we want to be, the four-time defending NFC North champions,” Bridgewater said. “We know that it’s a big game, but we just have to continue to approach it with the proper mind-set.”
The “Beat Green Bay” T-shirts that coach Mike Zimmer handed out Monday are proof that even Zimmer views Sunday’s rivalry game as one of the most important of his young tenure here. But Zimmer brushed off a question about whether beating the Packers would be a “signature win.”
“It’s too early to be talking about signature wins. I think if we hang one of the banners up there,” Zimmer said, pointing to a couple of the four NFC championship banners hanging in the indoor practice facility at Winter Park, “it’ll be a signature win.”
For the second consecutive week, a Vikings defender was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week. Nose tackle Linval Joseph won the award in Week 9. This time it was cornerback Terence Newman, who intercepted two passes and was credited with five pass breakups in Sunday’s 30-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
“I think it’s a collective deal,” Newman said. “I wouldn’t have been able to get the accolades if it wasn’t for my teammates putting pressure on the quarterback and being in the right positions. I got the credit, but I have to give the credit to those guys because they helped me.”
Newman’s play this season at age 37 has caught the eye of Rodgers.
“Great player. [I’ve] played against him a few times over the years,” Rodgers said. “[I’ve] always had a ton of respect for him and his game.”
Bridgewater was added to the injury report with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, but he still got in a full practice Wednesday.
Running back Adrian Peterson also was a new addition to the report. He was limited in practice because of a hamstring injury.
Defensive tackles Tom Johnson (concussion) and Sharrif Floyd (knee and ankle), outside linebacker Anthony Barr (hand and knee) and running back Matt Asiata (quadriceps) also were limited.
Left tackle Matt Kalil did not practice Wednesday because of a toe injury. He was the only Vikings player who did not participate.
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (ribs) was a full participant after missing the past two games. He got in a limited practice Friday but didn’t play against the Raiders. Zimmer said Wednesday that he is optimistic about Kendricks’ chances of playing against the Packers.
Zimmer began his news conference by telling Vikings fans that “we need to make sure all of those seats have purple in them” for Sunday’s sold-out game at TCF Bank Stadium.
“I love the fans,” he said. “It’s nice to have them behind our back and yelling. It’s a little later game, so hopefully they can tailgate a little bit beforehand and get really loud. But I know that Green Bay travels well, so I think it would be important that we keep all of our tickets.”
Zimmer cited Green Bay’s no-huddle offense as one reason why he hopes TCF Bank Stadium will be “nice and loud” for the Packers.