Decision to sit AP 'not easy,' but Matt Asiata filled in with 3 TDs
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MINNEAPOLIS - Adrian Peterson walked through the Metrodome press box about 90 minutes before kickoff of Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Eagles - an early sign of an inactive player.
Peterson resurfaced in the press box about 30 minutes before the game, speaking with multiple reporters in both trips through the media workspace like a man with something to get off his chest.
"All the way to [Sunday] morning, [Peterson] is pushing. And he's pushing," coach Leslie Frazier said. "I had to fight the urge to say, 'OK, give it a shot.' I think at the end of the day he realized it was the right thing to do. He is superhuman in so many ways, but the risk-reward - I just couldn't see it. But he understands, I think he does."
Peterson clearly didn't understand, or at least didn't want to understand, before the game on Sunday. Frazier could only assume Peterson understood why he sat the NFL MVP following a mid-foot sprain in snowy Baltimore the week before after third-string running back Matt Asiata finished with three touchdowns.
Backup running back Toby Gerhart joined Peterson on the team's inactives list after he was ruled out with a hamstring injury. Both had workouts on Friday that spurned optimism in Frazier, but ultimately he elected caution for his now 4-9-1 team.
"I really thought for the longest time that Toby [Gerhart] would be closer [to playing]," Frazier said. "But when it came to bursting that was his concern. He was fine just hitting the hole, but once he got out in the clear he was concerned about that and so then you run the risk of maybe playing one or two plays and then he's out for another week or two."
"So we pulled back on him for that reason."
Playing with a heavy heart after the loss of his father this season, Asiata made the most of his first career start as he crossed the goal line three times behind an offensive line that featured a backup guard and reserve tight ends.
Guard Brandon Fusco (knee) didn't play and was spelled by reserve lineman Joe Berger. On two scoring plays, the Vikings added rookie guard Jeff Baca to the line for run support with tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson out.
"My dream was make it to the NFL," Asiata said. "I wish my dad was here to witness it."
Many speculated that Peterson could be, in essence, 'shut down' for the rest of the season as the playoffs are out of reach. However, Frazier has no such plans as he said he expects Peterson to be back next week.
"It was not an easy conversation. Trust me on that one. It was not easy to tell him what the decision was because of the feedback and how much he wanted to play," Frazier said. "But he's a great teammate and true team player and after all of the back and forth at the end of the day to come back and say, "OK coach, I've got it." He could have stomped out and went bananas, but he didn't."
"I would anticipate that with this week of rest and his groin should be better because of that as well. I would anticipate that he would be back on the field [next week]."