Some early honors
Peter King of Sports Illustrated named DT Pat Williams and LB E.J. Henderson to his All-Pro teams.
But King did not give one of his two spots at running back to rookie Adrian Peterson (they went to LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook). More surprisingly, though, King named Cleveland Browns OT Joe Thomas offensive rookie of the year.
This is how he justified that decision: "No disrespect to Adrian Peterson, but for 16 games, Thomas was more impactful on the Browns than Peterson was on Minnesota."
Vikings final rankings
The final numbers are in, and the Vikings are No. 1 running the ball and defending the run. That's the good news.
The bad news: They finished 28th throwing the ball and last at defending the pass.
Overall, the offense was 13th and the defense was 20th. Based on what I saw this season, though, those rankings should be flipped.
Where the Vikings rank in some other key areas:
* The Vikings' offense was 27th in third-down conversions
* The Vikings' defense was 18th in third-down conversions
* The Vikings tied for ninth with 31 takeaways and tied for 12th with 30 giveaways. Their plus-one net difference was tied for 13th in the NFL.
* Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was 28th in the NFL, and his completion percentage was 26th, which isn't good enough for a team that runs the West Coast offense. Also discouraging is the fact that he is 30th in interceptions per pass attempt.
* Jackson was 19th in fourth-quarter passing (83.4) but he was not among the top 25 on third downs.
* Adrian Peterson finished second in rushing, sixth in touchdowns and fourth in yards from scrimmage. But one discouraging stat was his third-and-conversion rate. He was just six of nine, tied for 32nd in the NFL. Veteran Chester Taylor was four of five.
* Kicker Ryan Longwell was tied for 14th with nine touchbacks on kickoffs
* Chris Kluwe was eighth in yards per punt, and 16th in net average.
* Aundrae Allison led the NFC with a 28.7 average on kickoffs, and was third in the NFL.
* No Viking was among the top 50 for sacks in the NFL.
Peterson to return kicks?
Apparently, the Vikings aren't holding back for today's game. It appears RB Adrian Peterson may handle some or all of the Vikings' kickoffs today, something he hasn't done since Oct. 28, against the Philadelphia Eagles.
It is worth nothing, though, that WR Aundrae Allison, who has handled kickoffs the last four games, is also active and available.
Winfield, Rice inactive again
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) are inactive for today's regular-season finale at Denver.
Rookie Marcus McCauley will start at left cornerback for Winfield.
Also inactive for the Vikings are safety Mike Doss, fullback Naufahu Tahi, linebacker Vinny Ciurciu, linebacker Dontarrious Thomas and offensive tackle Chase Johnson.
Kelly Holcomb is the third quarterback.
Linebacker Ian Gold, wide receiver Brandon Stokley and tight end Daniel Graham top the Broncos' inactive list.
Also inactive for Denver are fullback Mike Bell, guard Isaac Snell, defensive end Larry Birdine and defensive end Paul Carrington.
Darrell Hackney is the third quarterback.
Peterson among team MVPs
Running back Adrian Peterson was named the Vikings' most valuable offensive player today in a vote of his teammates and coaches.
Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was voted defensive MVP and linebacker Heath Farwell took home special teams honors.
Peterson has rushed for a team-leading 1,305 yards heading into Sunday's regular-season finale at Denver.
Henderson leads the defense in tackles with 138 and Farwell has registered a team-high 30 special-teams tackles.
Williams: 'I'm playing'
The Vikings are listing defensive tackle Pat Williams as questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale at Denver, but Williams said there's no doubt.
"I'm playing," he said.
Williams returned to practice after getting Wednesday and Thursday off to rest knee and elbow injuries.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) said he also should be good to go, but cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder) will be a game-time decision again this week.
Both are listed as questionable, as is linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (groin).
Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu (ankle) is doubtful and not expected to play, while wide receiver Bobby Wade (knee) and linebacker David Herron (concussion) are probable.
For the Broncos, linebacker Ian Gold (knee), tight end Daniel Graham (ankle) and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (knee) are questionable.
Defensive tackle Pat Williams returned to practice after being held out the previous two days to rest knee and elbow injuries.
Ditto for wide receiver Bobby Wade (knee), who missed Thursday's practice, and both are expected to play in Sunday's regular-season finale at Denver.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder) was in uniform but not participating so his status remains uncertain.
Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu (ankle) missed the entire week of practice and is not expected to play.
The Vikings must declare the status of all injured players on this afternoon's injury report so check back later for an update.
Vikings played into Redskins' hand
Interesting article in the Washington Post today.
In it, In developing his scheme for the Vikings, Washington Redskins assistant head coach (defense) Gregg Williams unveiled a unique game plan that often included five linemen or four linebackers.
Vikings coach Brad Childress lamented that his team stuck with the run too long, a point Williams backed up.
The Vikings "cooperated on what they played," Williams told the Post.
"They played the packages that allowed us to play a couple of new packages... I thought our defensive line and our linebackers and our safeties did a really good job on not giving [them] a chance to get their running game started," Williams said. "We didn't allow the space they wanted to have those great backs cut back on us, be able to juke us in the open field. We made the young quarterback have to beat us."
Of course, that didn't happen, with Tarvaris Jackson struggling. The Vikings can expect more of the same in Denver on Sunday.
Vikings coach Brad Childress gave Pat Williams a second consecutive day off, but he is still hopeful that his Pro Bowl defensive tackle will play in the season finale Sunday.
Williams indicated on Wednesday that he would be fine to play on Sunday. Interestingly, in addition to the knee, his elbow was added to the injury report Thursday.
"Give him some time," Childress said of Williams. "He’s got multiple nicks and knacks, from playing on the defensive line, and he doesn’t need to be out here on his feet. He can do more inside (in the training room)."
LB Vinny Ciurciu also did not practice, with an ankle sprain, and WR Bobby Wade was given the day off. Despite multiple minor injuries, Wade hasn't missed a game this season.
Meanwhile, Childress declined to talk about Darrion Scott's marijuana citation in West Virginia, where he is from. Home for the Christmas break, Scott received a misdemeanor for possessing marijuana in his car.
Asked if he was disappointed, Childress said, "I wouldn’t characterize it any way, until I get a chance to speak to him."
Wearing a brace to protect his injured left shoulder, cornerback Antoine Winfield practiced on a limited basis today and said he hopes to play in Sunday's regular-season finale at Denver.
Winfield said he has a limited range of motion with the brace and that the shoulder is still a little stiff but feels a lot better than it did last week.
Winfield said he wanted to play in Sunday night's 32-21 loss to Washington but didn't disagree with the decision to hold him out.
"I don't think I could really hit anything," he said. "It would be hard for me, playing my style of football, to go out and tackle someone."
Asked if he can get to that point by Sunday, he said:"Hopefully, I can. That's what I'm hoping for."Practice notes:
Defensive tackle Pat Williams and linebacker Vinny Ciurciu were the only players who didn't participate in practice.
Ciurciu has an ankle injury and the Vikings said Williams was given the day off.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) and linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (groin) returned to practice.
Early practice report
Defensive tackle Pat Williams was conspicuously missing for the start of today's practice.
We're not sure of the exact nature of the injury, but check back later for an update.
Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu (ankle) was the only other player not participating.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield, wide receiver Sidney Rice and linebacker Dontarrious Thomas returned to practice after being inactive for Sunday night's loss to Washington.
Coach Brad Childress said he isn't ruling cornerback Antoine Winfield or any of his injured players out for Sunday's regular-season finale at Denver.
Winfield and wide receiver Sidney Rice were held out of Sunday night's 32-21 loss to Washington because of an injured left shoulder and right ankle, respectively.
Rice said he's optimistic he can return and Childress didn't dismiss the possibility of Winfield playing a limited role, even if he's not healthy enough to start.
"The thing that we always kind of stand by is, is this guy going to be able to protect himself?" Childress said. "Antoine wanted to play last week and we kind of held him back, but he's made very good progress."
The Vikings need a win Sunday and a Washington loss to Dallas to make the playoffs, but Childress said he doesn't want his players doing any scoreboard-watching.
"I just think it's important for us at this point to pour all of our energies into the Denver Broncos and forget the what-if game," he said. "For us, it's down to one game. All we can do is control what we can do. We've got nothing to do with the Dallas-Washington game."
Redskins did not sub out players, Childress said
Vikings coach Brad Childress clarified that the Washington Redskins did not sub out a player on a key play during the fourth quarter.
Childress initially thought the Redskins changed personnel before quick-snapping the ball so his team could not challenge a 23-yard catch by Santana Moss. But, other than one receiver he cannot identify, Childress said the Redskins did not change the fullback and tight end, only lining them up in a spread formation.
Childress spoke to Mike Perreira, the NFL's vice president of officiating, after Sunday night's game, as well as Monday morning. But both were trying to get their hands on a different tape to provide them another perspective.
Here are other highlights from his press conference:
* Asked about the Dallas Cowboys potentially resting players Sunday against the Washington Redskins, Childress said, "That’s the nature of the business.
"We’ve done it before (in Philadelphia), when you have nothing to gain in terms of positioning," he said. "You kind of weigh where you’re going to be freshness wise and sharpness wise."
* Childress said he has not finished his evaluation of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. But he mentioned that he wants the quarterback to limit his turnovers and make more of the routine throws.
* Childress said rookie Adrian Peterson got limited playing time in the second half, because Chester Taylor is more experienced with pass protection.
Winfield, Rice inactive
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) are inactive for tonight's game against Washington.
Both were listed as questionable on the Friday injury report but had hoped to play.
Also inactive for the Vikings are: linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, safety Mike Doss, fullback Naufahu Tahi, tight end Garrett Mills and offensive tackle Chase Johnson.
Kelly Holcomb is the third quarterback.
The Redskins' inactives are: quarterback Jason Campbell, safety Pierson Prioleau, offensive lineman Mike Pucillo, defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti, wide receiver Keenan McCardell, tight end Todd Yoder and defensive end Alex Buzbee.
Sam Hollenbach is the third quarterback.
Bears pair fined
Two Bears players were fined by the NFL for penalties in Monday night's 20-13 loss to the Vikings.
Linebacker Lance Briggs was fined $5,000 for a roughing-the-passer penalty on quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
Cornerback Charles Tillman was fined $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle.
Winfield, Rice questionable
The Vikings listed cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) as questionable for Sunday night's game against Washington.
Neither practiced this week, but both players said their conditions have improved and that they hope to be ready to go by game time.
In addition to Winfield and Rice, linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (groin) is questionable.
Safety Tank Williams (knee) is probable.
For the Redskins, quarterback Jason Campbell (knee) and offensive lineman Mike Pucillo (back) are out.
Tight end Todd Yoder (knee) is doubtful and safety Pierson Prioleau (hamstring) is questionable.
Safety LaRon Landry (quad) and wide receiver Keenan McCardell (calf) are probable.
Peterson trails Parker by 38 yards
With Willie Parker losing a yard on his only carry Thursday night, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson now only trails the Pittsburgh Steelers running back by 38 yards. Unfortunately, Parker broke his leg on the run and is sidelined for the rest of this season.
But if Peterson wants to win the rushing title, he still has to contend with San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who is second with 1,311 rushing yards. Peterson is third in the league with 1,278 rushing yards.
Winfield, Rice still not practicing
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder), wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) and linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (groin) were the only players missing at the start of today's practice.
None has practiced this week and all are expected to miss Sunday night's game against Washington.
The Vikings must declare the status of all players this afternoon so check back later for an update.
Vikings avoid another blackout
Vikings vice president Steve LaCroix said the Vikings are a "go" for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
"No station or corporate buyout was necessary," LaCroix said.
But, the Vikings still have 400 tickets available, from the allotment the Redskins returned.
WR Sidney Rice, LB Dontarrious Thomas and CB Antoine Winfield were not on the field for the early part of the afternoon practice.
Meanwhile, S Tank Williams did practice.
If Rice cannot play, then WR Troy Williamson would likely be active, and he certainly would like to replicate his last performance against the Washington Redskins. Last year, Williamson caught four passes for 77 yards, including a 46-yarder.
In the spirit of the holidays, the Vikings' players decided to donate their fine money from the season to the Salvation Army.
"We just thought it would be a good thing to do with our fine monies," coach Brad Childress said. "Because they're not my fine monies or the Vikings. It's really (the players) that have donated. You know, they may not have wanted to."
Asked how much money was involved, Childress said: "I can just tell you that it's a lot different than the number that (Oakland Raiders coach) Billy Callahan fined his guys the year they went to the Super Bowl. He fined them $750,000. Ours is very pale (by comparison)."
With fewer than 1,000 tickets remaining, the Vikings should have no trouble selling out Sunday night's game against Washington in time for the lifting of the local TV blackout.
Vice president of sales and marketing Steve LaCroix said there has been significant sales activity this week and that there are no plans to ask the NFL for an extension of the Thursday deadline.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder), wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) and linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (groin) did not participate in practice.
Safety Tank Williams (knee) was limited.
No decision yet on Smith
Coach Brad Childress said he's still in a fact-gathering stage regarding safety Dwight Smith, who was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and obstructing traffic last Thursday in downtown Minneapolis.
Asked if Smith's reported admission to police that he had smoked marijuana is a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, Childress said: "Well, it would be if that was the case. I haven't seen that to be the case. Like I said, I just need to let that part take care of itself."
According to the police report, Smith admitted he had "just got done smoking some marijuana" at the time he was cited.
Childress said he would let the legal process play out and wait until he has all the facts before making any decision on possible team discipline.Practice notes:
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder), wide receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) and linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (groin) were the only players missing for the start of today's practice.
Winfield and Rice are expected to miss Sunday's game against Washington and Thomas' status is uncertain.
Pro Bowl player comments
The Vikings just sent some comments from the Pro Bowl-bound players:
Adrian Peterson: “This is a great honor as a rookie and I’m proud to be selected. More important than that is that some of the guys who made it possible for me to go are also going, like Hutch, Birk and Tony. This was one of my goals coming into the season and it feels good to accomplish that. I’m blessed by the individual honor, but I know we have some team goals we are still striving for.”
Pat Williams: “I want to thank all the fans that voted for me and my teammates. It’s a blessing to be voted in outright and it’s nice to know that all the hard work over the years has paid off. I appreciate being recognized by the other players in the league, it means a lot to me.”
Darren Sharper: “I think the number of guys we had make the Pro Bowl is a reflection of the team as a whole. We are on a hot streak right now and we’re being recognized for our success. It’s a good representation of how the team is playing overall that people are paying attention. When you get to the stage of your career that I’m at, you don’t know how many more of these honors are going to come your way, so you really appreciate it more. It will be nice to bring my parents and my brother out there and let them enjoy the whole atmosphere.”
Tony Richardson: “Something like this is a credit to all the good people you have around you. It takes everyone doing their job for anyone to get recognition. Without a great line in front of you and some great running backs behind you, you’re nothing. I’m blessed to be surrounded by good people and Eric Bieniemy deserves a lot of credit. It’s not very often two guys from a backfield are going be Pro Bowlers. It’s humbling for me to know that the Vikings took a chance on me two years ago and that I was able to make the most of the chance they gave me.”
Kevin Williams: “I’m very excited to have a chance to represent the Vikings and extra excited that Pat is going to make the trip again. Pro Bowls are great but we want to keep improving on defense and winning games. This says a lot about our defense overall and the other guys around us played a huge part in our getting selected.”
Matt Birk: “I’m fortunate to have great teammates and this is a reflection on them. I consider it a team honor and I’m fortunate to be surrounded by talented guys and good teammates. Anybody can look good when you’re playing with some of the best in the business.”
Steve Hutchinson: “I’m happy that we have a bunch of guys who made the Pro Bowl and will represent the team. It’s a testament to what we did on the field so far this year and an honor to be selected by your peers, coaches and fans. It shows that we must have been doing something right this year.”
Childress press conference highlights
CB Antoine Winfield has a strained pectoral muscle and WR Sidney Rice has a sprained ankle, according to Vikings coach Brad Childress.
Childress said their status is "uncertain" for Sunday's key game against the Washington Redskins. But, given a short week, both may be in danger of missing the game.
Meanwhile, Childress lamented that LB E.J. Henderson did not make the Pro Bowl team, although he was named a second alternate. LB Heath Farwell (second), K Ryan Longwell (first) and LT Bryant McKinnie (second) were also alternates.
Other highlights from the press conference:
* G Artis Hicks was able to play few snaps, after missing the last game against the San Francisco 49ers with a back injury.
* S Tank Williams is expected to return to the lineup Sunday against the Redskins.
* Childress said LS Cullen Loeffler may have been distracted last night, because his wife was in labor.
Seven Vikings named to Pro Bowl
Rookie Adrian Peterson was among seven Vikings selected to the Pro Bowl team.
Joining him are: Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Tony Richardson, Steve Hutchinson, Matt Birk and Darren Sharper.
The Vikings have approximately 1,400 tickets available for Sunday's final regular-season home game.
The team feels "good about the positive direction of current sales," vice president Steve LaCroix said.
The Vikings struggled to sell out earlier in the season. But with the team in the playoff hunt, they shouldn't have any problems this week.
Vikings keep moving up
The Vikings offense was sloppy on Monday night, but moved up two spots to No. 11. A dominant defensive performance helped the Vikings move up to No. 20, although they remain last against the pass.
On offense, the Vikings clearly took a step backwards, with Tarvaris Jackson looking as skittish as he had earlier this season. He made two terrible throws that, at this point in the season, are inexcusable. The Chicago Bears didn't blitz cornerbacks, like the San Francisco 49ers did, but brought everyone else to bottle up Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson. Jackson wasn't able to capitalize, and his mistakes would have been far more costly against most other teams.
For the Bears to manage just 10 points off Minnesota's four turnovers is an apparent reflection of how far their offense has fallen since last season.
They keep going down.
QB Tarvaris Jackson was shoved out of bounds, and he limped along the sideline. Brooks Bollinger is in the game for a crucial third-and-goal from the Bears' nine-yard line.
Jackson is being looked at by a team doctor and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
Rice carted off
The Vikings lost another key player.
WR Sidney Rice was carted off after a right ankle injury. Rice tried to jog it off, but he did not look too good.
Also, WR Robert Ferguson was on the sideline, as well.
Vikings are thin at receiver, with Troy Williamson inactive. This means more playing time for Aundrae Allison.
Vikings CB Antoine Winfield is out for the remainder of the game with a shoulder injury. Winfield was on the field for the 11-yard reception by Muhsin Muhammad that set up Jason McKie's one-yard touchdown plunge late in the second quarter.
But Winfield left the field with 30 seconds left in the half.
Despite being cited Thursday night for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, safety Dwight Smith was in the starting lineup for the Vikings.
Smith made a tackle on the game's second play, stopping Bears running back Adrian Peterson for no gain on a pass from Kyle Orton.
Williamson inactive again
Wide receiver Troy Williamson is inactive for the Vikings for the third consecutive week and fifth time this season.
Robert Ferguson will start in place of Williamson, who had been suffering headaches since suffering a concussion against the New York Giants but was cleared to play this week.
The Vikings announced no changes to their starting defense, which presumably means Dwight Smith will open at safety, despite being cited Thursday for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Safety Tank Williams, cornerback Ronyell Whitaker, running back Mewelde Moore, tight end Garrett Mills, linebacker David Herron and offensive tackle Chase Johnson are the other inactives and Kelly Holcomb is the third quarterback.
Inactive for the Bears are: quarterback Rex Grossman, safety Josh Gattis, linebacker Darrell McColver, offensive lineman Josh Beekman, defensive tackle Babatunde Oshinowo, wide receiver Mike Hass, tight end John GIlmore and defensive tackle Darwin Walker.
Smith expected to play
Coach Brad Childress said he will wait until all the facts are in before deciding on any possible team discipline for safety Dwight Smith, who was cited Thursday for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
But the incident apparently won't keep him out of Monday night's game against Chicago.
"Right now, I anticipate him playing," Childress said after today's practice.
Smith participated in the practice session but wasn't in the locker room during the open media period.
Childress said he has spoken to Smith about the incident but declined to discuss any details.
"Those are conversations I would keep between Dwight and I," he said.
Childress likewise declined to speculate on any possible NFL discipline for Smith but said he doesn't think the incident will be a distraction for the team.
"I think we were able to put it behind us yesterday," he said. "We talked about it yesterday and put it where it needs to be and got ourselves back down to business."
Defensive tackle Pat Williams, who was with Smith at the time he was cited, said the players remain focused.
"Ain't nothing happened," Williams said. "That's just people trying to get in our locker room. We're not worried about that. Our focus is on the Chicago Bears and the game in front of us."
Childress said it was unfortunate that Williams was prominently mentioned in some TV reports of the incident, adding, "Pat was a sidebar to that. He had nothing to do with anything."
According to the police report, Smith admitted to having smoked marijuana, but Childress wouldn't speculate on how that might impact possible NFL discipline.
"Until the legal process runs its course, I wouldn't know," Childress said.
Guest speaker: Thee Vikings got a post-practice pep talk from former Wichita State coach Willie “Jeff” Jeffries, the father-in-law of tight ends coach Jimmie Johnson.
His message to the players?
"I just talked to them about life and living and their habits off the field," he said. "They had seven pro quarterbacks in a room and they were asking them what was the most important quarter in a game. … And Gino Torretta told them the fifth quarter is the most important quarter. That's what you do from the end of the game until Monday when you come back."
Safety Dwight Smith, who was cited Thursday night for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, was on the field with his teammates for the start of today's practice.
Coach Brad Childress hasn't said whether Smith will start Monday night's game against Chicago but could have an update after practice.
Safety Tank Williams (knee) is not practicing and is expected to miss his third straight game.
Wide receiver Bobby Wade was held out of today's practice because of swelling in his knee, but he said it won't keep him from starting Monday night's game against Chicago.
"It's kind of been sore," Wade said. "It's kind of been something I've been working with, but it's nothing that's going to stop me from playing."
Wade, who is listed as questionable, said the knee has been bothering him since he suffered a deep bone bruise in an Oct. 28 game against Philadelphia but that he expects to practice Saturday.
In addition to Wade, the Vikings listed three other players as questionable: guard Artis Hicks (back), safety Mike Doss (hamstring) and cornerback Charles Gordon (quad).
Safety Tank Williams (knee) is doubtful and expected to miss his third straight game.
For the Bears, quarterback Rex Grossman (knee) is doubtful and defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee), defensive tackle Darwin Walker (elbow) and cornerback Nathan Vasher (groin) are questionable.
Kyle Orton will start in place of Grossman.
Wade, Williams not practicing
Wide receiver Bobby Wade and safety Tank Williams were the only players missing at the start of today's practice.
Williams has been inactive for the last two games and is expected to miss Monday night's game against Chicago.
We're not aware of any injury with Wade, who was in the locker room during the open media period, but check back later for an update.
Guard Artis Hicks (back) returned to practice.
Safety Tank Williams (knee) and guard Artis Hicks (back) did not practice for the Vikings.
Safety Mike Doss (hamstring) and cornerback Charles Gordon (quad) were limited.
For the Bears, defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee), quarterback Rex Grossman (knee) and defensive tackle Darwin Walker (elbow) didn't practice and cornerback Nathan Vasher (groin) was limited.
Coach Lovie Smith already has named Kyle Orton to start in place of Grossman.
Wide receiver Troy Williamson, who hasn't played since suffering a concussion against the New York Giants three weeks ago, was cleared to return to practice during a Tuesday visit to the Mayo Clinic.
"They said that they essentially couldn't find anything to hang their hat on," coach Brad Childress said. "No abnormalities. They think that he can handle some of that stuff with Tylenol."
Williamson had been suffering from headaches since being injured and has been inactive for the last two games.
Guard Artis Hicks continues to be bothered by a back injury and is not expected to practice until later in the week, according to Childress, who said cornerback Charles Gordon (quad) would be limited.Notes:
Hicks and safety Tank Williams (knee) were the only players not participating at the start of practice.
Defensive tackle Fred Evans returned to practice after serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
Wide receiver Justin Surrency, who was with the Vikings during training camp and the preseason, was signed to the practice squad. He replaces defensive tackle Conrad Bolston, who was claimed on waivers by Green Bay.
Peterson sixth in Pro Bowl voting
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson looks as if he'll make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Peterson was the sixth-leading vote-getter in the NFL, behind Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Randy Moss.
Peterson received 753,294 votes, nearly three times that of any other rookie.
Vikings FB Tony Richardson was the top vote-getter at his position as well.
Packers claim Bolston
DT Conrad Bolston, who was released Tuesday by the Vikings, was claimed off waivers by the Green Bay Packers this afternoon.
Bolston, who spent the first 12 weeks of the season on the Vikings’ practice squad, was signed to the active roster Nov. 28, and he was credited with one tackle against the San Francisco 49ers. He was released Tuesday, to make room for DT Fred Evans, who completed a two-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
Former Vikings coordinator named Falcons interim head coach
Emmitt Thomas, the Vikings defensive coordinator in 2000 and 2001, has been named the Atlanta Falcons interim head coach, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Thomas replaces Bobby Petrino, who resigned Tuesday to become the head coach at the University of Arkansas. Petrino, who signed a five-year contract during the offseason, lasted only 13 games and led the Falcons to a 3-10 record.
Thomas has never been a head coach.
Allison kickoff even longer
Vikings rookie WR Aundrae Allison has been credited with a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions.
Originally, Allison was credited with a 103-yard return. Both are team records.
NFL and NFLPA streamline disability benefits
The NFL and NFL Players Association have implemented changes to enable retired players to receive disability benefits quicker.
Specifically, the NFL and NFLPA worked to expedite decisions, including the option of appealing rulings via email ballots.
Also, a network of physician “panels” or “teams,” consisting of doctors with experience in orthopedic and other practices, will be located in areas with a large concentration of retired players, such as Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, as well as in other major metropolitan areas.
There also will be a specialist to receive calls from applicants via a toll-free number and measures have been installed to ensure applications are processed faster.
In addition, the NFL and NFLPA also agreed to provide retired players with a prescription drug card that will permit them to purchase prescription medications at a substantial discount.
Vikings release Bolston
The Vikings released DT Conrad Bolston, presumably to make room for DT Fred Evans, who finished a two-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy on Monday.
Bolston had spent most of the season on the Vikings' practice squad, but he may not clear waivers, given his solid performance Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
Childress press conference highlights
Vikings coach Brad Childress discussed the state of his team for about 20 minutes today.
Here are some of the highlights:
* WR Troy Williamson will consult with a neurologist this week after missing the past two games with a concussion he suffered in the third quarter of the game against the New York Giants. Childress said Williamson has "some headaches that linger."
* The Vikings are trying to settle down back spasms OG Artis Hicks had late last week. He was inactive Sunday in San Francisco. If it were necessary, OT Marcus Johnson would have switched inside.
* Childress provided positive updates on CB Charles Gordon (quad bruise) and DE Brian Robison (hip/gluteal bruise).
* DT Fred Evans is eligible for reinstatement today after serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
* Childress said Chester Taylor had 14 touches, and Adrian Peterson had 15.
"It was unfortunate when 28 had the ball," Childress said, noting there were minor issues that limited his yardage.
* Childress said he's not concerned about the breakdown on the kickoff coverage unit that allowed back-to-back 55-yard returns. Asked if Chicago's Devin Hester would get the ball, Childress said, "That remains to be seen. We haven’t even looked at the Bears yet. We’re still trying to put this one to bed."
Vikings get another prime-time game
The Week 16 game between the Washington Redskins and the Vikings has been moved to Sunday night, the NFL announced.
Kickoff on Dec. 23rd will be 7:15 p.m. (CST) on NBC.
NBC originally scheduled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the San Francisco 49ers. But that game obviously isn't as interesting as two teams still in the hunt for playoff spots.
Wide receiver Troy Williamson heads today's inactive list for the Vikings.
Robert Ferguson will start in place of Williamson, who has been inactive for two straight games since suffering a concussion against the New York Giants.
Also inactive are safety Mike Doss, safety Tank Williams, fullback Naufahu Tahi, linebacker David Herron and guard Artis Hicks.
Kelly Holcomb is the third quarterback and Brian Robison will start at right defensive end for the suspended Ray Edwards.
For the 49ers, Ashley Lelie will start at wide receiver ahead of Arnaz Battle.
Their inactives are: quarterback Alex Smith, wide receiver LeRon McCroy, cornerback Marcus Hudson, linebacker Roderick Green, offensive tackle Patrick Estes, defensive lineman Atiyyah Ellison and wide receiver Jason Hill.
James going on IR
Erasmus James' comeback from 2006 knee surgery came to an abrupt end today when coach Brad Childress announced that the Vikings would be placing their third-year defensive end on season-ending injured reserve.
Childress said James reinjured the same anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the third or fourth play of Sunday's 42-10 win over Detroit and is currently "weighing his options."
Asked what those options are, Childress said: "Surgery. Not being a doctor, I'm not going to get into all of the other things. I just know that's going to have to be fixed."
James tore his left ACL and sprained his medial collateral ligament in the second game of last season and missed the final 14 games.
He sat out six of the first seven games this season and had just worked his way back into the starting lineup when he suffered Sunday's injury.
"It just tells you how fragile those things are," Childress said. "I think the only silver lining on this, if there is one, is the fact that I'm told it is only the ACL. Before he had an MCL involved and some other things, some other components that required a bunch of rehab. So I would think he’ll be able to deal with this and deal with it pretty quickly."
With defensive end Ray Edwards serving a four-game NFL suspension for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and performance-related drugs, rookie Brian Robison will start at right end Sunday.
To fill James' spot on the active roster, the Vikings will elevate linebacker David Herron from the practice squad.Injury report:
Safeties Mike Doss (hamstring) and Tank Williams (knee) will be listed as doubtful and aren't expected to play.
Linebacker E.J. Henderson (flu) is questionable but expected to start.
Wide receiver Troy Williamson (concussion) and guard Artis Hicks (back) also are questionable.
Four not practicing
Backup guard Artis Hicks, who twisted his back at the end of Thursday's practice, was one of four players not practicing during the portion that was open to the media.
Defensive end Erasmus James (knee) and safeties Mike Doss (hamstring) and Tank Williams (knee) were the others.
None of them are expected to play in Sunday's game at San Francisco.
The Vikings will declare the status of all injured players on their afternoon injury report so check back later for an update.
More help for Vikings?
Two teams that face the Vikings in the final three games played on Thursday and knocked each other's quarterbacks out.
Washington Redskins defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin leveled Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman from behind. Grossman injured a knee, and Bears head coach Lovie Smith is unsure if he will return this season.
In the next quarter, Bears defensive end Mark Anderson smashed Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell from the blindside, dislocating the quarterback's left knee cap.
According to the NFL Network, Campbell will miss a month with a dislocated patella tendon.
So how did the game end? Most of you probably didn't see it, since it was televised on the NFL Network. But journeyman quarterback Todd Collins, who hadn't thrown a touchdown pass since 2002, threw two against the Bears. He also completed 15 of 20 passes for 224 yards, leading the Redskins to a 24-16 victory that has the team still alive in the NFC playoff hunt with a 6-7 record.
The Bears, meanwhile, are essentially done. They are 5-8, and they will literally limp into the Metrodome on Dec. 17.
They also lost defensive tackle Antonio Garay, to a serious right ankle injury, and Tommie Harris has been playing on a bum knee for more than two months.
So all this begs the question: Are the Vikings destined to become just the fourth team to rebound from a 2-5 record to reach the playoffs?
Defensive end Erasmus James (knee) missed practiced for the second consecutive day and is not expected to play in Sunday's game at San Francisco.
Coach Brad Childress said he would address James' status Friday.
Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson also missed his second day because of the flu, but it's not expected to affect his availability for Sunday.
Childress said Dontarrious Thomas and Chad Greenway have been taking turns at middle linebacker in Henderson's absence.
Backup guard Artis Hicks twisted his back on the last play of practice and left the field with back spasms.
Safeties Mike Doss (hamstring) and Tank Williams (knee) did not practice, although Childress said Williams is progressing.
Vikings sign DE Grigsby
With defensive end Ray Edwards serving a four-game NFL suspension for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances and Erasmus James nursing a sore left knee, the Vikings signed Otis Grigsby off the Carolina Panthers' practice squad.
Grigsby (6-3, 260) made Miami's 53-man roster in 2003 as an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky and was in training camps with the Dolphins in 2004, Atlanta in 2005 and Carolina in 2006.
In addition to James, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson(illness) and safeties Mike Doss (hamstring) and Tank Williams (knee) were not participating in the early portion of practice that is open to the media.
Upon further review...
The Elias Sports Bureau, the official statisticians of the NFL, changed the ruling on defensive end Kenechi Udeze's interception. Elias has credited defensive end Ray Edwards with a sack and forced fumble of Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna. Udeze, meanwhile, was credited with a fumble recovery.
The play is significant because Edwards, who has been suspended for the final four games of this season, now has a team-high five sacks.
McKinnie talks about Sean Taylor funeral
Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie was one of the many former University of Miami players who attended Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor's funeral Monday.
"It was sad," McKinnie said. "There were a lot of people you hadn’t seen in a long time. It was emotional."
McKinnie said no plans have been finalized yet. But Taylor's former teammates may help with a foundation in the late Pro Bowl safety's honor.
"We all got to hang out with each other," McKinnie said of his former Hurricane teammates. "Actually, I think it brought us even closer."
Winfield: "I’ll definitely be out there"
After being inactive four of the last five games with a hamstring injury, CB Antoine Winfield said he feels as healthy as he has ever been at this point in the season.
"I’ll definitely be out there," Winfield said of Sunday's game in San Francisco. "Can’t wait."
Winfield said he didn't miss any snaps. He was 95 percent last Sunday, but he said it was a wise decision to hold him out again.
Quote of the day
Vikings coach Brad Childress had a colorful comment on San Francisco 49ers rookie LB Patrick Willis.
"I’ll tell you what, he is a rolling ball of butcher knives," Childress said. "He is everywhere. He’s a million-mile-an-hour guy."
Willis leads the 49ers with an astounding 173 tackles, 66 more than the next closest defender.
Willis also has one sack, one forced fumble and four passes defended.
The following Vikings did not practice for the early portion:
* S Mike Doss (hamstring)
* S Tank Williams (knee)
* LB E.J. Henderson (illness)
* WR Robert Ferguson (personal matter)
* DE Erasmus James (knee)
The Vikings have one spot available on their active roster, with the suspension of DE Ray Edwards.
With James hobbled, it appears rookie Brian Robison would be next in line to start at right defensive end.
NFL statement on Edwards suspension
The NFL issued this statement through the Vikings on DE Ray Edwards:
"Ray Edwards of the Minnesota Vikings has been suspended without pay for the team’s last four games of the regular season for violating the NFL Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances.
"The suspension begins immediately. Edwards will be eligible to return to the Vikings’ active roster on Monday, December 31 following the team’s December 30 game against the Denver Broncos."
Vikings coach Brad Childress initially announced the suspension during his lunchtime press conference.
Vikings on the rise
The Vikings are .500, but they're moving up in the NFL rankings, according to two major publications. Sports Illustrated has the Vikings rated 10th in the NFL, while USA Today has the Vikings 14th.
Here is what each said.
SI's Peter King: "Yo, Adrian: At 1:16 p.m. ET, Adrian Peterson faked a Lion out of his jock and ran 28 yards, leading to the first touchdown in the Vikes' conquest of Detroit. Add an improved Tarvaris Jackson, and you've got a dangerous playoff contender, suddenly."
USA Today: "Tarvaris Jackson's improved play makes them truly scary -- both as an opponent down the stretch and as a potential playoff team."
Allison wins special teams award
Rookie Aundrae Allison, who set a team record with a 103-yard kickoff return in Sunday's 42-10 win over Detroit, was named NFC special teams player of the week.
Allison is only the second Vikings return man to win the award, joining Moe Williams (1999).
"This honor says a lot about our special teams," Allison said in a statement. "I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and seize the moment. It was a well-designed scheme and everyone held their blocks. We have a lot of pride in our return unit and we wanted to make a big play."
The Vikings just released a statement from owner Zygi Wilf regarding Monday's announcement that the state legislature is unlikely to consider a proposal for a new Vikings stadium during the 2008 session.
Here's the statement:
"We appreciate the willingness of Minnesota's state leaders to meet with the National Football League this week and address the state's stadium situation. The seriousness of the stadium issue has risen to a priority at the League level. The Vikings and the NFL understand and respect the priorities and pressing issues facing the state, but at the same time, the stadium issue needs to be resolved in the near future. Construction costs are rising significantly each year that we delay and there is an urgency to reach a solution.
"We are confident that state leaders and the Vikings will work together to reach a solution, just as many other NFL cities have done in recent years. We look forward to advancing the stadium issue during the 2008 legislative session."
More awards for Peterson?
Running back Adrian Peterson is one of three nominees for FedEx ground player of the week after rushing for 116 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's win over Detroit.
He also is one of two Vikings nominated for Diet Pepsi rookie of the week along with wide receiver Aundrae Allison, who set a team record with a 103-yard kickoff return.
New York Jets linebacker David Harris and Carolina linebacker Jon Beeson are the other players up for that award.
San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (177 yards, two touchdowns against Kansas City) and the New York Giants' Derrick Ward (154 yards, one TD vs. Chicago) are Peterson's FedEx ground competition.
Childress press conference highlights
Vikings coach Brad Childress talked for more than 20 minutes today and addressed a range of topics.
Here are some of the highlights:
* S Mike Doss has a hamstring strain, of the slightest form.
* CB Marcus McCauley, who suffered a shoulder stinger, is going to be "just fine," Childress said.
* Childress highlighted the blocking of his receivers.
"I believe the wide receivers blocked as well as I have seen," he said. "I had an official at the end of the game tell me, ‘Coach, I don’t think I’ve ever seen wide receivers block like this since I’ve been officiating in the National Football League, which is quite a statement."
* Early in the fourth quarter, Childress challenged a play that was originally ruled an incomplete pass. On the play, LB E.J. Henderson sacked quarterback Jon Kitna and knocked the ball loose, which the Vikings recovered. But referee Larry Nemmers had blown the play dead with a whistle, and Childress could only challenge the sack and the loss of yardage.
Per league rules, since the play was ruled an incompletion, the ball was dead as soon as it hit the Metrodome turf.
"I was really trying to work on my challenge numbers," Childress jokingly said. "I like to inflate those whenever I can."
Vote of confidence
At least one national observer has been on the record casting his support of the Vikings.
Asked about the sixth and final NFC playoff spot, former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci said he likes the Vikings over a handful of other teams.
"I like Minnesota because they run the ball, the quarterback is getting better and they play good defense stopping the run and rushing the passer," Mariucci said Sunday on NFL GameDay on the NFL Network. "Running the ball and stopping the run bodes well for a playoff run."
Interestingly, Mariucci made the comment before the Vikings' 42-10 thrashing of the Detroit Lions.
The Vikings' offense is a respectable 12th in the NFL.
The pass offense is still 31st, but the Vikings dug quite a hole earlier in the season with some abysmal performances. As for the defense, it still is last against the pass, but it has inched up to 24th overall.
Regardless of what the rankings say, though, the Vikings' defense clearly is better No. 24.
Winfield, Williamson inactive
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (hamstring) and wide receiver Troy Williamson (concussion) top the inactives for today's game against Detroit.
Marcus McCauley will start in place of Winfield, who will miss his fourth game in the last five, while Robert Ferguson will open in Williamson's spot.
The only other starting lineup change will see Erasmus James open at right defensive end for Ray Edwards.
Safety Tank Williams, tight end Garrett Mills, linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, defensive tackle Conrad Bolston and offensive tackle Chase Johnson are the Vikings' other inactives.
Kelly Holcomb is the third quarterback.
The Lions' inactives includes two former Vikings: safety Greg Blue and cornerback Dovonte Edwards.
Also inactive are: running back Tatum Bell, fullback Jon Bradley, offensive lineman Barry Stokes, guard Manny Ramirez and defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis.
Dan Orlovsky is the third quarterback.