By Joseph Gunther
Adrian Peterson, Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd and Everson Griffen missed at least one practice this week. However, only Joseph is a question mark to play for the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at Lambeau Field. Peterson, Floyd and Griffen have been on the field at least for portions of a practice, but Joseph did not. Head coach Mike Zimmer is not worried about Peterson, Floyd or Griffen’s participation against the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title.
Joseph returned last week against the New York Giants as the Vikings clinched a playoff spot after missing three games with a toe injury, but aggravated the injury early. He did return to the game and totaled 65 snaps played. However, missing all three practices during the week is a concern.
Missing one or both of Joseph and Floyd would be a problem for the Vikings. Packers running back, Eddie Lacy, has topped 100 yards rushing just six times in 31 games over the last two seasons, but three have come against the Vikings. In his career, Lacy has gone over 100 yards in four of the previous five meetings with the Vikings. His career-low against the Vikings came in his first game in the rivalry with 94 yards.
Peterson has been dealing with ankle and shoulder injuries in recent weeks, but with the league’s rushing title presumably on the line as well as the division title, it is going to take a lot to keep the star running back off the field. He talked early in the week about winning his third career rushing title, as well as winning the division. By winning the rushing title, Peterson would become the third back to win the league’s rushing title in his 30s, joining Curtis Martin in 2004 and Marion Motley in 1950.
“I stepped back, and I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t even believe that,’” Peterson said about the history of 30-year-old running backs. “That’s just hard for me to believe, because I see myself having the opportunity to win it a couple more years, you know? It’d be special to join that group.”
The Packers injury report is twice as long as the Vikings. They list linebacker Jayrone Elliott (quadricep) and tight end Justin Perillo (hamstring) as out. They list offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle), defensive tackle Mike Daniels (questionable), linebacker Mike Neal (hip), defensive tackle B.J. Raji (concussion) and cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) as questionable. They also list offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (foot), cornerback Casey Hayward (ankle), running back Eddie Lacy (rib), guard T.J. Lang (shoulder), center Corey Linsley (ankle), linebacker Clay Matthews (ankle), linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) and guard Josh Sitton (back) as probable.
The most concerning injuries for the Packers are on their offensive line; all five regular starters were listed as limited or non-participants in practice this week. That unit allowed nine sacks last week against the Arizona Cardinals. Zimmer believes the Packers will try to run the ball like they did in Week 11 at TCF Bank Stadium and that they will get most of those injured players on the field.
Probable (75 percent chance player will play):
Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle (knee)
Everson Griffen, defensive end (shoulder)
Anthony Harris, safety (hip)
Matt Kalil, offensive tackle (lower leg)
Adrian Peterson, running back (ankle/shoulder)
Harrison Smith, safety (hamstring)
Adam Thielen, wide receiver (low back)
Doubtful (25 percent):
Linval Joseph, defensive tackle (foot)
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. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.