Despite a bad record, the Vikings still have two players getting the love of football fans. Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen lead their positions in Pro Bowl voting.
The initial numbers are in on the Pro Bowl voting and, as it stands, it appears that Adrian Peterson
will be making his fifth appearance in five years and Jared Allen
will be making his fourth appearance in four years as a Viking.
Peterson leads all running backs and is fourth overall with 469,117 votes – trailing only Aaron Rodgers
(589,801 votes), Tom Brady
(537,780) and Calvin Johnson
Peterson has a wide lead at running back over Chicago's Matt Forte
(348,880) and Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy
(328,618). While a case can be made that Forte and McCoy have been as important, if not more so, to their offenses than Peterson has, the fans are showing the respect that, regardless of record, the Vikings have the best running back in the NFL.
A similar sort of national love has been expressed for Allen. He has 314,173 votes – more than twice as many votes as second-place defensive end Jason Babin
of Philadelphia and almost three times as many votes as Julius Peppers
of the Bears. The only player within 100,000 votes of Allen is Dwight Freeney
, a silk hat on the 0-10 pig that are the Indianapolis Colts with 223,840 votes.
While there is good news for A.P. and Allen, the early returns aren't all bringing good news.
Seven-time Pro Bowler Steve Hutchinson
may need the support of players and coaches to make an eighth trip to the NFL all-star game. He is currently third in the voting at guard with 86,436 votes, trailing Packers starters T.J. Lang
(120,249) and Josh Sitton
(98,969). He is less than 300 votes ahead of Jahri Evans
of New Orleans and less than 2,000 ahead of Mike Iupati
, who will both get their props from coaches and fellow players. However, if the Packers get to the Super Bowl, both of the top vote-getters will be out of play, which could open the door to an eighth Pro Bowl appearance for Hutch.
The only other Viking in the top five in any category is Percy Harvin
, who is fifth in voting for kick returner with 19,180 votes, less than 20 percent of the votes received by leader Devin Hester
It appears the five-year streak of Kevin Williams
going to the Pro Bowl will end this year. As it currently stands, he isn't in the top five in voting among defensive tackles. Given the disparity in the votes, Williams making it back for a sixth straight year will require a rash of injuries or a handful of players turning it down.
The fan voting for the Pro Bowl is as astute as any in pro sports, where deserving players get the votes rather than a popularity contest where big names get the nod over hungry young impact players. In 2009, the Vikings dominated the NFC balloting, thanks in large part to being on a magical run to the NFC Championship Game. In 2011, the fans still are showing the love to Peterson and Allen, but the rest of the Vikings aren't getting the same show of respect.
PRO BOWL NOTES
Tim Tebow is fifth among AFC quarterbacks in fan balloting, a cruel joke considering he is running an offense that was used by Army in the late 1940s to win games.
Rookie quarterback Cam Newton is third in balloting among NFC quarterbacks, behind only Rodgers and Drew Brees.
In something of a surprise, Ravens right tackle Michael Oher leads all AFC tackles in votes, clearly a sign of some box-stuffing by Ravens fans. However, starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie (the guy ironically protecting Joe Flacco's "Blind Side"), isn't in the top five. While it seemed clear the NFL would find a way to keep McKinnie out of the Pro Bowl after he went partying following the 2009 season and blew off practice – eventually being dismissed from the team – the fans are having their say, too.
While McKinnie is being shut out by the fans, fellow Raven and former Viking Matt Birk is fourth in the AFC balloting among centers.
To nobody's surprise, many of the top vote-getters are Packers. As it currently stands, if the NFL was to let the fan voting decide who starts, the NFC lineup would include Rodgers, wide receiver Greg Jennings, fullback John Kuhn, offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga, guards Lang and Sitton, center Scott Wells (who has more than twice as many votes as his nearest competition), linebackers Clay Matthews and Desmond Bishop, cornerback Charles Woodson, free safety Morgan Burnett, kicker Mason Crosby and special teams designee Jarrett Bush.
It would appear the prospect of a pre-Thanksgiving special session of the Minnesota Legislature is off. State Senate Tax Committee Chair Julianne Ortman (IR-Chanhassen) said she will preside over informational hearings on the Vikings stadium in the next three weeks, which would indicate that nothing will happen concerning a stadium vote until December at the earliest, increasing the chances that the current Vikings lease will expire at the Metrodome and the stadium issue is increasingly looking as though it will be delayed until the regular session of the Legislature meets next year.
Four Vikings did not participate in practice Wednesday – guard Anthony Herrera (knee), safety Husain Abdullah (concussion), LB Erin Henderson (hamstring) and long snapper Cullen Loeffler (shoulder).
Herrera is recovering from a knee injury, but remains a big question mark for Sunday and is more likely to miss another game. He has been replaced the last two games by Joe Berger.
It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do if Loeffler's shoulder injury persists. Jared Allen is the backup long snapper, but the team may end up signing a replacement on Friday or Saturday if needed.
Michael Jenkins was limited with a knee injury Wednesday.
Christian Ponder appeared on the report, but it was noted the injury was to his left (non-throwing) hand, which got stepped on Monday night.
Seven Raiders didn't participate in Wednesday's practice – QB Jason Campbell (who will be listed as out), WR Jacoby Ford, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, CB Chris Johnson, RB Darren McFadden, DT Richard Seymour and RB Manase Tonga. Six more Raiders players were limited due to injuries.
McFadden, who was the NFL's leading rusher prior to getting injured, is reportedly more likely not to play Sunday than to make it on the field with a foot injury.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.