Adrian Peterson’s successful return from last year’s suspension has brought his seventh Pro Bowl invitation and a chance to lead the NFL in rushing for the third time in his nine-year career.
Peterson’s impact also has the Minnesota Vikings on the verge of the playoffs.
A bothersome ankle leaves Peterson’s availability for Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants in question. Peterson was held out of practice for the second consecutive day as he deals with a sprained left ankle.
Coach Mike Zimmer said he thought Peterson would get some work Thursday and has said the back should be ready for Sunday night. Peterson participated in the pre-practice stretching, but didn’t practice.
Peterson was injured in the first half of last week’s 38-17 win against the Chicago Bears. He returned for two second-half series before sitting out the rest of the game, finishing with 18 carries for 63 yards.
Returning to the game for six second-half carries provides optimism for the determined Peterson.
“Pretty confident I’ll be ready to go,” Peterson said Wednesday. “I felt pretty good getting back out there and running on it.”
Peterson leads the league with 1,314 rushing yards, nine ahead of Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin. But as Peterson tries to win the rushing title for the first time since 2012 — when he ran for 2,097 yards and won the league MVP award — Minnesota has much more on the line.
The Vikings can secure a playoff berth this weekend before its game if Atlanta loses or ties Carolina and Seattle wins or ties St. Louis. If Arizona beats Green Bay, the Vikings and Packers will play in the season’s final week for the NFC North title.
Peterson isn’t Zimmer’s only concern.
Linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and safety Harrison Smith (knee/hamstring) have missed the last two games. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph (foot) has missed three straight. Barr, Smith and Joseph have returned to practice and were limited Thursday.
Falcons’ Coleman in concussion protocol
Falcons rookie running back Tevin Coleman has been placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol after slipping in the shower and hitting his head.
Coach Dan Quinn says Coleman was at team headquarters when he fell Wednesday.
Coleman, a third-round draft pick from Indiana, did not practice Thursday, but Quinn has yet to rule him out. If Coleman can’t play Sunday when the Falcons (7-7) host Carolina (14-0), Terron Ward will take his place behind Pro Bowl starter Devonta Freeman.
Coleman is averaging 4.5 yards on 87 carries this season.
Boldin wants to remain with 49ers
If Anquan Boldin makes one catch in Sunday’s game in Detroit, he will become the 13th player in NFL history to reach 1,000.
But while that milestone seems likely with two games remaining this season, his future with the 49ers is far more questionable.
Boldin, 35, will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and expressed interest Thursday in returning to San Francisco, where he’s played the past three seasons.
“Definitely. I like it here. I like the people here. The organization has been good to me,” Boldin said.
“And I have roots here now. There’s a lot of people, a lot of relationships that I’ve built in this community. When the time does come, it will just be hard to say goodbye to.”
The Colts have signed quarterback Stephen Morris to the active roster and placed cornerback D’Joun Smith on injured reserve. … The New York Giants have filled the suspended Odell Beckham Jr.'s space on the roster by promoting receiver Ben Edwards from their practice squad. … New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees appears determined to overcome a right foot injury in time to play against Jacksonville on Sunday. … The Seattle Seahawks hope wide receiver Doug Baldwin will be ready to play Sunday against St. Louis. But the decision on his status could be made on game day. … Buffalo Bills Coach Rex Ryan says he’s taking the approach that running back LeSean McCoy will not play against Dallas on Sunday because of an injured right knee.