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Updated: November 25th, 2011 12:35pm
Adrian Peterson 'very, very doubtful' to play Sunday against Falcons

Adrian Peterson 'very, very doubtful' to play Sunday against Falcons

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Adrian Peterson did some work on the side during practice Friday but Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said it was, "very, very doubtful," the Pro Bowl running back would play Sunday against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Frazier listed Peterson as doubtful on the injury report because of a high left ankle sprain, meaning officially there is a 25 percent chance he will play. Peterson did not practice at all this week.

Peterson was on the field as practice opened Friday, and was no longer wearing the walking boot that had been put on his foot after he suffered a Grade 1 high ankle sprain and ligament damage in the first quarter of last Sunday's loss to Oakland.

Peterson got the boot off Thursday and did some work in the pool. He was on the field as practice opened Friday but returned to the training room while individual drills were still going on to receive treatment on the ankle.

"The trouble (Peterson) had was when he got up on his toes to plant or make a cut, that's where he had trouble," Frazier said. "That being the case, it's doubtful he'll be able to get to the point where by Sunday we felt like he would be able to get out there. But we'll see.

"The fact that he can put pressure on that ankle, that's a positive sign. He's made a lot of progress, but being able to cut, as we all know, is a major part of what he does. So we'll see if he's able to put a little bit more pressure (on it) tomorrow and then go from there."

Frazier, who had said Wednesday that if Peterson did not practice Friday he would not play against the Falcons, said Peterson will make the trip to Atlanta.

Peterson is fifth in the NFL with 846 yards rushing and has 10 touchdowns. Clearly the Vikings aren't going to want to take any chances with their marquee player on offense.

"We wouldn't play him if he were at risk," Frazier said. "If he were at risk to himself, we wouldn't put him out there, and our medical staff, along with what we observe with our eyes, will help us in that determination. But we're not going to put any of our guys at risk health-wise or any other way."

The expectation is that backup Toby Gerhart will take over the starting role against the Falcons, with Lorenzo Booker and receiver Percy Harvin splitting time behind him.

Peterson has missed three games in four-plus NFL seasons because of injury. He sat out two games in 2007 after suffering a Grade 2 tear of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. Peterson missed a game late last season because of a bruised right knee.

The issue with Peterson is his competitive nature might make it difficult for him to accept sitting out. Frazier, though, sounds confident that Peterson will be smart about things.

"He's wise, he's smart," Frazier said. "He knows there are limitations. But he's very competitive. Even as recently as yesterday, he felt like he was going to be ready to go. We're in the cafeteria (and he said), 'Coach, I'm a fast healer, I'll be ready.' But this takes a little bit longer than some of other injuries."

Frazier had one good reason for not declaring Peterson out on the injury report, even if he is almost certain his superstar back won't play. Last season, Frazier declared quarterback Brett Favre as "out" two days before the Vikings played host to Chicago on Dec. 20. Favre was dealing with a sprained right shoulder.

However, on the day of the game, Favre decided his improvement was such that he could play. The Vikings had the right to upgrade him on the injury report and made him "questionable" hours before kickoff. Favre ended up starting.

"You're reading my mind," Frazier said when asked about the impact the Favre situation had. "You have to be very cautious when it comes to that 'out' thing, so I've learned that."

Asked if he was influenced by what happened, Frazier said: "I won't go on the record saying that, but you do have to be aware when you rule guys out."

Abdullah, Herrera to sit

Safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) and guard Anthony Herrera (knee) were listed as out for Sunday. This will be the second game in a row that Abdullah has missed -- Tyrell Johnson will start at free safety again -- and fourth in a row that Herrera has been sidelined.

Herrera still has soreness when he attempts to move laterally, according to Frazier. Herrera damaged the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee on Oct. 23 against Green Bay.

Frazier said Herrera isn't "quite there yet" but is "very close." The Vikings hope to have him back for the Dec. 4 game against Denver at the Metrodome. Joe Berger again will get the start at right guard on Sunday.

Rudolph, Shiancoe updates

Tight end Kyle Rudolph (quadriceps) did not practice Friday and is listed as doubtful. Fellow tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) did return to do some limited work after missing two days and is questionable.

Shiancoe has been bothered by hamstring issues since training camp -- he aggravated the problem a few weeks back -- but Frazier did not sound as if he will sit the veteran.

"Everything I'm being told by the medical staff, we're doing the right thing and I don't think there was a setback because of what happened two or three weeks ago with what happened on Sunday in the ballgame," Frazier said. "He's made enough progress to where we feel like he has a very good chance of playing on Sunday. We'll see how it goes as we get a little bit closer." 

The Vikings are still considering bringing up rookie tight end Allen Reisner from the practice squad.

"We haven't made that determination because we still have some options with (fullback) Ryan D'Imperio, some of the things we do out of regular, along with (tight end) Jimmy (Kleinsasser) and some of the things that we do there," Frazier said.

"But that is something we're discussing. We wanted to make sure based on today that Kyle couldn't (go) and the fact that he did very little today let's us know that we have to have other options."

Harvin questionable

Harvin again is being bothered by sore ribs, something that dates to training camp, and is listed as questionable after being limited all week in practice.

Linebacker Erin Henderson, who did not play against Oakland because of a hamstring injury, took part in all of practice Friday and is listed as probable to play Sunday, meaning it's a "virtual certainty" he will be back.

"We feel good about him playing and playing at length," on Sunday, Frazier said.

Quarterback Christian Ponder (knee), defensive tackle Christian Ballard (hamstring), left tackle Charlie Johnson (Achilles') and safety Jamarca Sanford (shoulder) are all probable.

Ponder did not miss any practice time Friday after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday because of a bruised knee suffered against the Raiders. Frazier said the rookie has had no issues in practice. "I don't see it being a factor in the game on Sunday," Frazier said.

Frazier thought Ponder suffered the bruise when he took a hit while scrambling against the Raiders.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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