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Updated: September 3rd, 2012 3:53pm
Notebook: 'Limited exposure' if any for Adrian Peterson in opener

Notebook: 'Limited exposure' if any for Adrian Peterson in opener

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Leslie Frazier still isn't saying whether star halfback Adrian Peterson will play in Sunday's opener, but the Minnesota Vikings' coach confirmed the obvious on Monday:

If Peterson plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars at all, he won't play much.

"We wouldn't want to approach it, for sure, if he makes it back with the mindset that he has gone through an entire offseason with his teammates," Frazier said of Peterson, who has been working his way back from left knee reconstruction on Dec. 30.

"We recognize if he's able to get in this first ball game, it'll be with limited exposure. We'll talk about it as the week goes on and see how he's doing and if it's even a valuable option to let him play."

Peterson's goal always has been to play in Week 1, but Frazier has indicated since February the best the Vikings could hope for was a limited role.

Even that remains in doubt, with Frazier reiterating on Monday the Vikings will "without question" wait to make a decision on Peterson's status until Sunday.

"He's done a good job from the time we've allowed him to begin practice," Frazier said. "The game just takes on a whole different mindset for everybody. Even the level of practice changes, the intensity.

"We have to see him get through some things and see how he handles certain things from a mental and physical standpoint. It's different when there is no endpoint -- in his case, he knew a few weeks ago he wasn't going to play in the preseason. Now, the mindset changes a little bit and we have to see how he handles that."

Toby Gerhart figures to get the bulk of work at halfback, with No. 3 halfback Matt Asiata suiting up as well and getting more time if Peterson doesn't get any.

The Vikings will try to take emotion out of the decision, Frazier said, pointing out Peterson is "not just another guy on our team; he is in so many ways the face of what we try to do. We have to be able to see the big picture when it comes to him and that's the way we'll approach it."

Asked if he's worried about Peterson's reaction to potentially being inactive, Frazier said, "There was a point where I maybe would have worried about that, but as of late, I think he has really bought into some of the things we've been talking to him about from a preparation standpoint and how we want to approach this regular season."

Peterson isn't scheduled to speak with the media until Thursday.

Raymond to start?

Safety Mistral Raymond said he hasn't been told whether he'll start opposite rookie Harrison Smith on Sunday, and Frazier said the decision remains up in the air.

"There is a chance for it," Frazier said of Raymond starting. "We're going to talk a little bit more about that as the week goes on. (Raymond) did some good things, but between him and Jamarca (Sanford), we're going to work that out."

The decision might have been made already had Raymond not been a late scratch for the third preseason game on Aug. 24 against San Diego because of back spasms. He missed Thursday's exhibition finale at Houston but participated in Monday's abbreviated practice and said he's "back to normal" after the injury scare.

Sanford struggled in 15 starts last season and didn't fare much better in three exhibition appearances.

"As of right now, no one has come out and said" who will start, Raymond said. "But even when I was inactive, I tried to prepare like I'm a starter. That's what I've been told by guys in the league. That's what guys like Antoine (Winfield) tell me. Every day just come out and work as if you're the starter. That's the approach I take every day."

Percy on kickoffs?

Receiver Percy Harvin took the first rep on kick return in the jogthrough portion of Monday's practice. But Frazier said no decision has been made on whether to expose Harvin in that phase on Sunday.

"He is quite a weapon as a kickoff return guy and obviously from an offensive standpoint with the type of season he had a year ago," Frazier said. "We'll take a look during the course of the week and look at what Jacksonville does on kickoff as well to determine when we put him back there and how often we put him back there."

Harvin returned last season's opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown at San Diego and had a 104-yarder at Atlanta, helping his career-best average of 32.5 yards.

But he returned only 16 kickoffs total -- down from 42 in 2009, when he went to the Pro Bowl as a return man, and 40 in 2010 -- because the Vikings wanted to ensure he was available for his expanded role in new coordinator Bill Musgrave's offense.

Depending on the status of Marcus Sherels' sprained ankle, other options could include cornerbacks Josh Robinson and A.J. Jefferson, who led the nation with a 35.8-yard average on 26 kick returns as a sophomore at Fresno State in 2007. Jefferson averaged 25.4 yards with a long of 51 on 14 kick returns for Arizona last season.

"If they want to throw me back there, I did some kick returns," Jefferson said. "I'm really excited about getting the ball in my hands whenever I can, so if that's a possibility, I'll do that, too."

No big surprise

Acquired on Friday in exchange for an undisclosed draft pick, Jefferson said he was somewhat surprised by the trade but knew it was a possibility because of the Cardinals' depth at cornerback.

The Vikings liked Jefferson's size/speed combination as an outside corner in their Tampa-2 defensive scheme -- a system he'll have to pick up quickly to have any chance for suiting up on Sunday.

"I'm going to try to make the transition as smooth as possible," Jefferson said. "The playbook is a little different than from where I'm coming from, but Coach (Joe Woods) has been working with me day in and day out since I got here. So, I'm trying to get caught up to speed so I can get on the field."

Frazier said the Vikings felt Jefferson "would give us something that we wanted. We wanted a guy who could play some man coverage, and he's shown that he has the strength to do that. His speed. His athleticism. He's a good kickoff return guy as well."

Carlson expects to play

Tight end John Carlson admits he's still getting up to speed in the Vikings offense after missing the entire preseason with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

But Carlson said on Monday he expects to play in the opener and likely will continue wearing a brace to help stabilize the knee.

"I felt a lot better (Monday) than I did Tuesday or Wednesday of last week," Carlson said. "Much better (Monday) than last week. So, I'm encouraged by that. To continue to get the conditioning work in this week, leading up to the game -- that's going to be key."

Frazier said Carlson appears to be on top of the mental side of the game, "but the physical aspect, like when we put the pads on Thursday, we'll learn a little bit more about where he is when we get a chance to bang a little bit and have him in certain situations."

Schwartz improving

Backup offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz said he was "full go" in Monday's practice and believes he'll be ready to suit up for Sunday's game, a little more than a month after undergoing sports hernia surgery.

"I'm getting back into shape, too," Schwartz said. "I'll be ready for this weekend."

Schwartz hasn't been in a game situation since Aug. 25, 2011, days before he underwent hip surgery in Carolina that cost him all of last season.

"We need to see him practice this week," Frazier said. "He's missed a ton of time, as you know. Right now, he's one of the guys we expect to be up on Sunday, but we need to get through some things in practice, because there are some unknowns, so it's hard to answer that until we have a practice on Wednesday."

Childs visits

Rookie receiver Greg Childs watched practice for the first time since tearing both of his patellar tendons in the Vikings' night practice on Aug. 4 and had surgery two days later.

He was wearing braces on both knees and standing without crutches. He said he's progressing well but otherwise declined comment.

"Greg is doing great," said receiver Jarius Wright, Childs' longtime friend and teammate. "He's up walking and everything, and he's able to bend his knee. Greg is doing great, and I'm glad to see that his spirits are back high."

Quick hits

• The only four players on the Vikings roster who didn't practice on Monday were Sherels, receiver Jarius Wright, safety Andrew Sendejo and LB Marvin Mitchell, who are all battling ankle issues. Frazier said Mitchell has a high ankle sprain and is in the most danger of missing Sunday's game.

• Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey told reporters in Jacksonville that HB Rashad Jennings will start against the Vikings but HB Maurice Jones-Drew, who ended his lengthy holdout on Sunday, should play as well. The Jaguars have a roster exemption for Jones-Drew until he's ready, meaning they can carry 54 players on their roster.

• T DeMarcus Love will have surgery to fix pectoral damage and is facing a four-month recovery, Frazier said. The Vikings placed Love on injured reserve on Friday.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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