When Adrian Peterson returned to Vikings practice on Friday he said he would play against the Panthers this weekend. That was before he learned his son had passed away from injuries suffered in a savage beating by a man who was dating the youngster’s mother. Peterson left the team’s facility upon hearing the news and there is no official word on his status for the game.
The boy died at 11:43 a.m. at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls after being removed from life support, according to Lincoln County State's Attorney Tom Wollman. A 27-year-old man has been charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault and aggravated assault of an infant in the beating of Peterson’s son.
NBC Sports reported early Saturday that Peterson “continues to remain on track to play” and that the star running back did not alter what he had previously told reporters. However, this has been a fast moving story with no changes to the Friday Injury Report submitted to the league. Peterson is on it, however, it does not list him as questionable, doubtful or out. This is an unusual case so there is no expectation the NFL will hand down sanctions.
Meanwhile, the Panthers can only sit idly by waiting for word. They have prepared for Peterson more that any quarterback on the Vikings roster. Head coach Leslie Frazier did not name a starter until Friday and even though he has been cleared to start, Christian Ponder will back up Matt Cassel. Ponder was nursing a rib injury, but he has been relatively ineffective in his three starts going 0-3. Cassel was named the starter last week and led Minnesota to a 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Carolina is looking to rebound after a very disappointing loss to Arizona last Sunday. Should the Vikings be without Peterson they will have to go with Toby Gerhart, the fourth-year back out of Stanford. He has only one rush for five yards this season and 1,027 in his career, less than half what Peterson ran for a year ago when he just missed the all-time record with 2,097.