By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings will have four players representing the team at the 2013 Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
NFL’s leading rusher Adrian Peterson will be joined by defensive end Jared Allen, fullback Jerome Felton and kicker Blair Walsh.
However, several teammates could have been selected to join them.
Center John Sullivan was not selected, but the leading vote-getter among NFC offensive linemen was Green Bay Packers center Jeff Saturday. The 14th-year veteran struggled badly in his first year in Green Bay and will be removed from the starting lineup Sunday at the Mall of America Field.
Linebacker Chad Greenway leads the entire league in tackles. He was passed over in favor of three outside linebackers that have very little linebacker skills. Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers, DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys and Clay Matthews of Packers are all pass rushers. They are all really defensive ends in 3-4 schemes.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield had a very good season, but he was beaten out by players that had deserving seasons as well. There were other cornerbacks deserving of the roster spot as well.
The Vikings could easily have had five or six players selected to the game.
Another strong game from Walsh
Walsh made a 56-yard field in the second quarter to give the Vikings a seven-point lead. That kick tied a Viking record (longest field goal) and set an NFL record (most field goals made from 50 yards or longer).
He later added two more field goals that got the Vikings a 13-point lead and nearly had a chance to try from 58 yards in the fourth quarter. However, Frazier decided to punt and play defense instead.
“He kicked so well in pregame,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “Mike Priefer (Vikings special teams coordinator) had come up to me and said, ‘if we get to the40, Coach, we can make it.’ He actually told me if we cross the 50, we’re in good shape. But I felt pretty good when we had a chance to kick the 56-yarder.”
He also extended the team’s rookie scoring record to 128 points with one game to play.
Winfield fractured hand
Winfield played most of Sunday’s victory over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium with a fracture in his hand.
The team does not expect the 14-year veteran to miss Sunday’s game against the Packers.
“We don’t expect it to be a problem in this ball game,” Frazier said. “He’ll have hit wrapped up, but he will be able to play, just like he finished the game (Sunday).”
Winfield would most likely have missed some practice time anyway this week, just like he did last week, but he want to do something in practice to get used to playing with a soft cast on his hand.
Game time change
Sunday’s game between the Vikings and Packers has been moved from a noon start to 3:25 p.m. The Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins game has been moved to the prime time slot on NBC.
It is not surprising that the Vikings-Packers game was moved to the Fox’s game of the week slot. The Vikings need a win to clinch a playoff spot and the Packers need a win to clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Also, Peterson needs 208 yards to break the single season rushing record. He has already rushed for 210 yards against the Packers this season.
Two players claimed by the Jaguars
The Vikings placed offensive lineman Mark Asper and tight end Allen Reisner on waivers to activate cornerback Chris Cook from the injured list and added defensive end George Johnson to the active roster from the practice squad.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, tied for the worst record in the league, won claims on both players.
ProFootballTalk.com reports that the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also put in claims for Asper. The versatile offensive lineman was originally drafted by the Bills in the sixth round of last April’s draft.
The website also reported that the Buccaneers and Detroit Lions put in claims for Reisner. The Vikings signed Reisner as an undrafted rookie in 2011.
Peterson donates to Team Rubicon
Peterson’s stardom goes beyond the football field. The Pro Bowl running back donated $50,000 from his All Day Foundation to Team Rubicon.
Team Rubicon is a non-profit organization that gives military veterans the opportunity to quickly deploy with medical professionals to emergency response situations.
“Military veterans choose to serve even after they take off the uniform because they want to dedicate themselves to a cause larger than their own,” Peterson said in a press release from Team Rubicon. “Supporting organizations like Team Rubicon before, during, and after times of disaster allows them to continue their important missions in communities worldwide.”
Team Rubicon was created in 2010 and has engaged in missions in Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan and Sudan as well as in the United States in Vermont, Maryland, Missouri and Alabama.
“When our country is in need, veterans respond,” Jacob Wood, President and Co-Founder of Team Rubicon said in the release. “Adrian’s generous support of our mission will enable Team Rubicon to broaden and accelerate our response efforts in future crisis situations.”
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.