Notebook: Vikings going easy on Adrian Peterson, who still isn't 100%
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The bye week helped Adrian Peterson's sore left ankle, but Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday the team will continue to lighten the star halfback's workload in practice.
Peterson injured the ankle on Oct. 7 against Tennessee and has been listed on the injury report each week since.
"It still bothers him a little bit," Frazier said. "I could see a little bit (Monday) in our practice. Still a little sore in some areas, but not to the point where it keeps him from achieving what he has to get achieved. It's still there."
Peterson already has 1,128 yards on 195 rushing attempts (5.8 average) -- more than 100 yards ahead of Seattle's Marshawn Lynch (1,005 yards) and Tampa Bay's Doug Martin (1,000) for the NFL lead.
In the past four games alone, Peterson has 629 yards and five touchdowns, exceeding the 100-yard mark each time as his remarkable recovery from left knee reconstruction continues.
Matchups won't get easier from here. Two of the Vikings' next three games are against Chicago, which boasts the league's No. 5-ranked run defense. They also have two games against Green Bay (11th against the run) and one against Houston (No. 2).
The bye week gave Peterson "a chance to rest and reflect a little bit, but I think the rest is probably the most important thing for him," Frazier said. "Just to be able to take a break from all of the things he's done the first 10 weeks, some of the hits, and now to come back refreshed and ready to go for this next ballgame."
Frazier said his message as the team reconvened on Monday morning was about narrowing the focus to only the game ahead.
But the gravity of the upcoming stretch against NFC North Division foes -- at Chicago on Sunday, at Green Bay on Dec. 2 and then at home against Chicago again on Dec. 9 -- isn't lost in the locker room.
"It is an opportunity for us and we know it's going to be tough," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "That's what you live for. You live for the second half of the season to be able to control your own destiny and to be able to make a play for the playoffs and that's exactly what we have in our hands."
The Packers (7-3) have won five in a row to pull within a half-game of the Bears, who were 7-2 entering Monday night's game at San Francisco. The Vikings (6-4) also visit St. Louis (3-6-1) and Houston (9-1) before the Dec. 30 finale at home against Green Bay.
"Obviously, the only game we're worried about is Chicago," end Jared Allen said. "But the overall scheme of things, I think everybody's focus is 'Hey, it's a six-game season. Let's go out, everybody's fresh.' The coaches mentioned that.
"The bye week, where there were no incidents. Everybody's back healthy and strong. So, I think everybody is focused."
Players had six days off for the bye before returning to work on Monday.
"They realize that their goals are right in front of them," Frazier said. "They seemed excited about getting back to work. I think, to a man, they were really looking forward to getting back in this work environment."
Ready for anything
The Vikings' defensive preparations this week are complicated at least somewhat because they don't know who will quarterback the Bears on Sunday.
Starter Jay Cutler was ruled out for Monday's game because of a concussion. He was to be replaced by eighth-year veteran Jason Campbell, who has 68 NFL starts with Washington and Oakland but none with the Bears.
"It definitely makes a difference for a lot of reasons," Frazier said. "You are trying to look at the tape that you have for that particular team. The quarterback position is so, so important it changes -- you know sometimes the play caller's mindset as to how they run the offense."
The Bears also have a new offensive coordinator, former Vikings coach Mike Tice, in place of Mike Martz. They rank 10th in the NFL in rushing, 31st in passing and 27th overall.
The Vikings haven't won at Soldier Field since 2007. In four consecutive losses since, they've allowed an average of 40.8 points per game.
"Run scheme is pretty much the same. The pass game is a little different," Allen said. "But I wouldn't say there is a glaring difference to where you can't tell. To me, it's still the Chicago Bears, it's still expecting a lot of stuff they had success against us with in the past. And we have to tighten up."
Nose tackle Letroy Guion (turf toe) returned on a limited basis, Frazier said.
The Vikings don't have to issue an official injury report until Wednesday.
The Vikings practiced for the first time on the new turf installed during their bye at their indoor practice facility.
"It is identical to what we have at the dome," Frazier said, "and I appreciate our ownership getting that done coming out of the bye. It's kind of refreshing for our players to come back and practice on the surface that they play on."