After a week of speculation and guessing games as to whether either of the Minnesota Vikings running backs would suit up against the Eagles on Sunday, reports began to surface late Saturday-early Sunday clearing the air of the status of both Adrian Peterson & Toby Gerhart.
According to reports out of Minn. Adrian Peterson is out, as is backup RB Toby Gerhart.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) December 15, 2013
While nothing is confirmed at this point, the coinciding signing of practice squad running back Joe Banyard to the 53-man roster only strengthens the reports.
For some perspective, Banyard, a second year pro out of UTEP, has never had an NFL carry and has spent the last two seasons on the Vikings practice squad.
Should Peterson and Gerhart miss Sunday’s game, the Vikings will be without two workhorse backs that they have leaned on heavily throughout the season. Peterson’s elite status is without question in the league, but Gerhart has carved out a niche backing up the perennial all-pro back and has contributed nicely during a down year for the Vikings.
Although it is on just 36 carries, Gerhart is averaging a staggering 7.9 yards/attempt to go along with a pair of touchdowns. When Peterson left last Sunday’s game vs. the Ravens, the former Heisman trophy runner-up picked up right where he left off and had one of his best games as a pro. He would finish with 89 yards on 15 carries, including a scintillating 41 yard rumble to the endzone that made up part of the game’s incredible ending (5 touchdowns in the last 2:05).
Peterson has been as dominant as always. On a sub-par Vikings team with everybody keying in on the pro-bowler, all AP has done is rush for 1,221 yards (2nd in the NFL behind LeSean McCoy) and 10 rushing touchdowns (tied for 1st in the NFL). In his two career games against the Eagles, Peterson averaged 94.0 yards/game with two touchdowns (one receiving).
While the game must be played, the Eagles obviously catch another break with both running backs missing Sunday’s game. The team has done a pretty good job of shutting down opponents’ top offensive option recently, but any time you don’t have to face a player who has a legitimate argument for being the best player in the league, it’s a bonus. Expect Minnesota to lean much more heavily on their trio of talented receivers: Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, and Cordarrelle Patterson. Everyone remembers what happened the last time an Eagles team in contention played a down-and-out Vikings team with a no-name playmaker, so I do not expect Chip Kelly and his staff to approach this game any differently.