The Vikings three most explosive offensive starters all missed part of practices this week with various injuries, but at least two of them are expected to play Sunday game against the Washington Redskins.
Jerome Simpson, who has been dealing with back issues that caused numbness in the lower leg before last Sunday’s game, was limited in Friday’s practice but going through individual drills. His availability is the most uncertain among the injured offensive playmakers, including Percy Harvin (hamstring) and Adrian Peterson (ankle).
“We’ll determine over the weekend how much he’ll play or whether he’ll play at all. He’s much better, so that was encouraging,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.
Simpson, who has played in only two games after starting the season with a three-game suspension, is the team’s biggest deep threat. However, Frazier admitted that Simpson’s ability to push off was limited by the unspecified issue in his back.
“He’s getting better. It’s just maybe a little bit more we need to see come and that may come overnight,” Frazier said. “Just from what the doctors have told me, it continues to get better.”
Harvin, the NFL’s second-leading receiver with 38 catches through five games, had a hamstring tighten up on him during Thursday’s practice and the team cut back on his reps after that. On Friday, Harvin was listed as a full participant and probable on the injury report, meaning he is a “virtual certainty” to play.
“He did much better today. We limited him some,” Frazier said. “We wanted to make sure he was ready for the game, but he should be fine.”
Peterson, who is eighth in the NFL with 420 yards rushing on 96 carries, appeared to be limping early in practice after having his ankle twisted in the first quarter of last Sunday’s game with the Tennessee Titans, but Frazier indicated the star running back was fine.
“He moved well. He feels very comfortable, did good in and out of his cuts,” Frazier said. “I think he’s ready to go.”
Peterson said Thursday the ankle was sore but said he had played through worse ankle injuries and said there was no doubt he would be playing Sunday.
“I got it twisted. I don’t know if you guys seen it, but I got it twisted pretty bad,” Peterson said. “Just going to try to get some rest on it, let it recover and try to get the strength back. I really didn’t experience much swelling, but I feel like I’m taking steps forward.”
Like Harvin, Peterson was listed a full participant and probable on the team’s injury report.
RAYMOND ON THE REBOUND
While the Vikings deal with more recent injuries, safety Mistral Raymond, who had suffered a subluxation of the right ankle in the Week 3 game against the San Francisco 49ers, has begun jogging.
“We’ve done some things and they’ve put me in some situations to test it and we’re going to continue to do that,” Raymond said. “I’m just doing what they ask me to do and when it’s time for me to get back out there I’ll be out there.”
Raymond said he was able to start walking without assistance about a week ago, but he doesn’t have a timetable on his return to action.
“As a competitor, you probably feel like it won’t be long, but you don’t want to do that to yourself. You don’t want to put yourself into a situation where you’re looking at a date and that date comes and now you’re down on it or down on yourself,” he said. “So for me, I’m not putting a timetable on it. When it feels right and they say I can go, I’ll go.”
Although a return after the Nov. 18 bye would seem logical, Raymond said he isn’t looking ahead. The initial timetable the Vikings put on his recovery was three to five weeks. Next week would be the early end of that timeframe, but given the pronounced limp he had jogging Friday, that seems unrealistic. If he would go to the end of the initial timeframe, there would be only two games left before the bye.
“This was his first day getting do some running, so that was encouraging,” Frazier said. “He’s still a few weeks away, but at least we’ve got a start now. He’s begun to run, so that’s a good sign.”
The timing for his return might also depend on other injuries in the secondary and how much the Vikings really need to rush him back, considering the defense has been playing well of late and is ranked seventh in the NFL.
“Guys have been doing really good. I’m excited for our guys,” Raymond said. “They’ve been doing some really good things. Hopefully everyone can just continue on that track and keep racking up victories.”
As it turned out, the injury looked worse than it was. As he laid on the turf at Mall of America Field, his ankle was bent awkwardly.
“I think I took one peek at it and that’s all I could take,” Raymond said. “I really had no idea (how bad it was), had never been in the situation. I didn’t know what to think. I just put it all in our training staff’s hands.”
In addition to Raymond, receiver Greg Childs has been rehabbing his two torn patellar tendons at Winter Park recently.
Raymond was listed as “out” on the injury report and LB Marvin Mitchell (calf) is doubtful for Sunday’s game. Simpson was the only player listed as questionable.
Besides Peterson and Harvin, the Vikings had several other players on the injury report listed as probable: G Charlie Johnson (back), S Andrew Sendejo (ankle), CB Antoine Winfield (knee) and QB Christian Ponder (knee). Winfield was the only one of those that was limited on Friday.
The Redskins listed S Brandon Meriweather (knee) and DE Doug Worthington (calf) as out for Sunday.
WR Pierre Garcon (foot), CB Cedric Griffin (hamstring) and QB Robert Griffin III (head) are questionable.
NT Barry Cofield (shoulder), CB DeAngelo Hall (knee) and RB Evan Royster (knee) are all probable.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.