Vikings Try to Recover
The Minnesota Vikings didn't fare too well when Adrian Peterson was shut down and knocked out of last week's game. They'll have to find a way to play much better Sunday without their star rookie running back taking the field at all.
With Peterson missing at least one game due to a torn lateral collateral ligament in his knee, the Vikings (3-6) look to get back on track when they host the Oakland Raiders (2-7), who will have Daunte Culpepper starting at quarterback in his first game against his former team.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Vikings -5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 35 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Oakland +5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Peterson came into last week's game at Green Bay looking for an encore performance after rushing for an NFL-record 296 yards against San Diego the previous week. The NFL's leading rusher, however, had a very rough day against the Packers, running for a season-low 45 yards on 11 carries before departing from Minnesota's 34-0 loss after getting hurt in the third quarter.
The injury is not deemed serious enough to require surgery or jeopardize Peterson's season, but the rookie first thought his year might be over.
"That pain was horrible. I don't know if you've ever experienced pain where you don't want anybody to touch you. Just be still for a few minutes until it calms down. That's the kind of pain it was," said Peterson, who's run for 1,081 yards this season. "Not really knowing what to expect because it was my knee. I was just praying, 'God please, don't let it be anything serious.'"
Vikings coach Brad Childress ruled Peterson out for Sunday, but wouldn't put a timetable on his recovery beyond that.
"I was very relieved. It could've been a lot worse," Peterson said. "I just thank God. I'll be back soon."
He won't be back this week, though, and the Vikings will need to make adjustments as they try to put last week's loss behind them. Minnesota managed just 247 total yards - 49 less than Peterson's rushing total when he powered the Vikings to a 35-17 victory over the Chargers in the previous game.
One of those adjustments will be turning to veteran running back Chester Taylor, who Peterson supplanted as the starter after rushing for 224 yards in a victory over Chicago on Oct. 14. While Taylor isn't the dynamic presence Peterson is, he's more than capable, topping 1,200 yards in his first season as a starter last year and averaging 5.0 yards a carry this season.
Taylor ran for 37 yards on just three carries last week.
"He obviously has a track record," Childress said of the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Taylor. "He's a good player as well, so just like I mention to you every week, we just expect somebody to pick up from there."
Despite the absence of Peterson, Childress has to be more comfortable with the situation at running back than with the Vikings' revolving door at quarterback. Brooks Bollinger became the third QB to start for Minnesota this season last Sunday, and went 16-for-26 for 176 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, as well as being sacked three times. Childress said Monday that he'll go with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback against the Raiders.
Jackson, chosen the starter midway through training camp, did not play against the Packers as a precaution after suffering a concussion against the Chargers. He'll try to improve a Minnesota passing attack that ranks 31st in the NFL, although he's thrown two touchdowns and five interceptions in five games this season.
Oakland also is making a change at quarterback for this week, and the new starter is a familiar one to the Vikings and their home fans. Culpepper, who played his first seven seasons with Minnesota and threw for 18,598 yards and 129 touchdowns, will be back under center for the Raiders, who signed him during the offseason after he was cut by Miami.
With Josh McCown banged up and struggling the past two weeks, Oakland coach Lane Kiffin on Wednesday gave the job back to Culpepper, who has completed 56 percent of his passes for 817 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. Culpepper relieved McCown for the second half of Oakland's 26-24 victory over Cleveland on Sept. 23 and then accounted for five touchdowns in a 35-17 victory the following week against the Dolphins.
He lost his next three starts, though, committing six turnovers and throwing two touchdown passes, before McCown returned from a broken toe to play the past two games. The Raiders, however, managed only 193 total yards against Chicago - 80 passing - and McCown went 1-for-13 during one stretch.
Culpepper fell out of favor in Minnesota despite three Pro Bowl seasons, as Childress traded him to Miami after an ineffective and injury marred 2005 season, and later accused him of being greedy and self-centered. Culpepper also clashed with Vikings management over his contract and his insistence on rehabilitating his knee at home in Florida, rather than in Minneapolis.
Minnesota will be looking to rebound defensively against its former teammate and Oakland after allowing a season high in points to Green Bay. The Packers gained 488 total yards against the Vikings, who are giving up 361.8 per game, fourth-worst in the league.
The Vikings hope to take advantage of the favorable matchup with the Raiders, who have dropped five straight and are averaging just 17.6 points this season. The offense sputtered again last week as Oakland fell 17-6 to the Bears.
Oakland has fared well against Minnesota, winning eight of 11 meetings and two straight in the series, although the teams haven't met since 2003. The Raiders won the last matchup at the Metrodome 22-17 on Sept. 19, 1999.
By: Staff Writers - Email Us
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