The Minnesota Vikings' star running back is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions after head coach Leslie Frazier watched Peterson go through Friday's practice with foot and groin injuries.
"Mentally I'm there and I'm in tune. My body is just not responding the way I want it to right now," Peterson said after last Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, when he rushed 11 times for 45 yards but was pulled in the second half.
Frazier said on Friday he "probably" wouldn't let Peterson talk him into playing "unless something dramatically changes."
Peterson first appeared on the injury report on Oct. 17 with a strained hamstring and he stayed there for two weeks, but a groin injury suffered Nov. 13 against the Washington Redskins has had more lasting impact. It caused him to be listed as questionable for a Nov. 24 game and again on Dec. 8. He played in both of those games, but against Baltimore on Dec. 8 he also suffered a sprained foot.
Peterson, who played through a sports hernia injury for more than a month at the end of last season, said it's been some time since he's felt healthy this year.
"It's been a minute. That's how it is, especially playing this position," Peterson said after last Sunday's loss. "It can be like that sometimes. You just kind of get in a rut."
Peterson's backup, Toby Gerhart, was ruled out for Sunday, leaving Matt Asiata to take the majority of carries. He did that two weeks ago with Peterson and Gerhart out, rushing 30 times for 51 yards.
"Just going in with the same mentality. Just go in there and try to win, score touchdowns and move the ball and get some first downs," Asiata said Friday.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes could return to the lineup after missing the last two weeks with a sprained ankle. He is listed as questionable.
"He's missed quite a bit of time. We'd probably work him in there," Frazier said Thursday.
By Friday, Frazier said all four his remaining healthy cornerbacks – Rhodes, Chris Cook, Marcus Sherels and Shaun Prater – would be considered for the starting spots. Prater, like Rhodes, was limited Friday and listed as questionable.
Safety Jamarca Sanford said Rhodes, a rookie, is getting more comfortable as the season progresses.
"The more you play this game, it slows down to you. He got more comfortable," Sanford said. "It's like college, your freshman year in college you get comfortable with the game and you see guys starting to make plays and that's what he's done this year and he's more comfortable and more comfortable with the defense. He's been believing in himself from Day One. He's just showing what he's capable of doing when he's locking guys down."
With two of their four cornerbacks questionable, the Vikings placed LB Audie Cole on injured reserve and promoted CB Robert Steeples from the practice squad. Cole suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday.
Joining Peterson as doubtful is DT Letroy Guion (quadriceps).
S Harrison Smith (foot/groin), LB Larry Dean (knee), DT Fred Evans (knee), Asiata (ankle), Cook (knee), FB Jerome Felton (knee), G Brandon Fusco (knee), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (chest) and CB Marcus Sherels (shoulder) are all probable.
PURPLE PRO BOWL POSSIBILITIES?
Pro Bowl players will be announced at 8 p.m. Central Friday on NFL Network, but the Vikings might not be very well-represented.
The team had only four players in the top 10 of fan voting, led by Peterson. Fan voting finished Thursday night online, with coaches and players registering their Pro Bowl votes this week. Fans, coaches and players all count one-third toward a player's Pro Bowl status.
Peterson finished eighth overall in Pro Bowl voting among fans with 864,659 votes, just 17 votes behind Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in seventh place. Peterson is third overall in running back votes, behind Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch.
Jared Allen finished fifth among defensive ends with 305,043 fan votes. Houston's J.J. Watt took that title with 409,980 votes.
Chad Greenway was eighth in fan voting among outside linebackers, with 164,334 votes. Kansas City's Tamba Hali took the honors at that position with 331,721 votes.
Cordarrelle Patterson was fifth in fan voting among kick and punt returners with 115,642 votes, despite leading the league in kickoff return average. Chicago's Devin Hester led that category with 238,905 votes.
Neither the Vikings nor the Lions have a shot of winning the division or making the playoffs, rendering Sunday's game meaningless in that sense. In a week when the NFL is featuring divisional matchups, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are the more interesting draw. Chicago leads the division with only an 8-7 record, but Green Bay would win the NFC North with a win and an 8-7-1 record.
"It was wide open for the taking," Vikings LB Erin Henderson said of the division. "Those teams were able to take advantage and get some things done to be able to be in the situation that they were still contending for the division. It's frustrating when you look at it and how it breaks down and how it broke down and how things happen, but you can't change the past. What's done is done. Try to learn from this year as much as you can and prepare for next year and come back better."
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.