Notebook: Jerome Felton leading his way towards extension with Vikings
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The play got roars throughout Winter Park this week.
First-and-10. Lead draw to Adrian Peterson. Fullback Jerome Felton plows into Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk at the Green Bay 16-yard line -- and ends up on top of the former No. 5 overall draft pick at the 12.
"Obviously, A.J.'s a great player and he's going to make his plays," Felton said on Friday. "You've just got to keep being physical with him and let him know what kind of game it's going to be."
Felton has done plenty of that in an eye-opening season after bouncing between three teams and three less-than-ideal situations in 2011.
The Detroit Lions tendered him as a restricted free agent even though Scott Linehan's offense doesn't use a fullback and ended up waiving him at the end of training camp.
The Carolina Panthers claimed him even though they use quarterback Cam Newton for short yardage and waived Felton in November.
The Indianapolis Colts claimed Felton, too, leaving him to finish out the season on the NFL's worst team and sending him into the offseason frustrated and confused.
"I knew after last year and how last year went, it's all about perception in the NFL," Felton said. "I knew it was going to take me to get somewhere to where I could really show what I could do."
The Vikings had tried to claim Felton off waivers at least before and wanted to incorporate more lead plays in Bill Musgrave's offense.
So, in March, Felton agreed to a one-year, $750,000 contract that would pay him nothing besides a workout bonus unless he made the 53-man roster. The team stuck with him despite a DWI arrest in June and has been rewarded for its faith.
Still only 25 years old, Felton has been a major upgrade over Ryan D'Imperio, whom he beat out for the job in camp. The website ProFootballFocus.com, which breaks down tape of every NFL game, ranks Felton as the No. 3 fullback in the league. And Peterson leads the NFL by far with 1,446 rushing yards, doing most of his damage out of multiple-sets.
"There's a little bit of vindication with that," Felton said. "But I always knew what would happen if I could get in the right offense, and I think that's just developing as we go."
He's one of 10 players on the Vikings roster who could become unrestricted free agents in March and could be in line for a contract extension before then -- something including bonuses exceeding the $50,000 he had to earn on his current deal.
Asked if he feels he has accomplished everything he hopes, Felton said, "Being here this year, they've gave me a great opportunity to put good film out there. I'm just playing. I'm just trying to help us win, and whatever happens with the contract, happens with it. But I definitely feel like I've been able to show the league more what I'm about."
Such as pancaking someone 4 yards backwards?
"Yeah," Felton said, grinning. "That ain't my first rodeo."
Peterson, Allen good to go
Peterson and right end Jared Allen returned to practice as full participants on Friday and were listed as probable (virtual certainty of playing) for Sunday's game against Chicago, along with everyone else on the Vikings' injury report.
The Vikings had given off Peterson a day to rest. Allen has been dealing with back spasms that Frazier said should not be a concern on Sunday.
"Nothing that our trainers have told me that I have to be concerned about," coach Leslie Frazier said. "They think with the treatment that (Allen)'s gotten this week and the way he performed (Friday) in practice, he should be fine. Now, that doesn't mean something couldn't happen, but they haven't warned me that that was a possibility."
Also listed for the Vikings were: tight end Kyle Rudolph (shoulder), middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley (shoulder), right tackle Phil Loadholt (knee), center John Sullivan (ribs/knee), cornerback Antoine Winfield (knee), punter Chris Kluwe (left knee) and nose tackle Letroy Guion (shin).
As expected, the Bears added cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) to the list of players they've ruled out for Sunday, along with receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) and linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring).
Halfback Michael Bush (ribs), defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot) and guard Chris Spencer (knee) are questionable (50% chance of playing). Receivers Alshon Jeffery (knee) and Devin Hester (concussion) and guard Gabe Carimi (hamstring) are probable.