NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not hear running back Adrian Peterson’s appeal in two weeks. Instead, he has appointed Harold Henderson to hear the appeal, though it might not make a difference.
“Under Article 46 (Commissioner Discipline), appeals of discipline for off-field conduct are heard and decided by the commissioner or his designee,” a league spokesman said. “Harold Henderson has been designated as the hearing officer for this appeal. Harold has served for many years as a hearing officer for Article 46 discipline.”
And Henderson, who in the past served as NFL Executive Vice President for Labor Relations and Chairman of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, has often sided with the league.
The latest example of this was earlier this year when he upheld the league’s 10-game ban of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon after his latest violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
The hearing for the appeal of Peterson’s suspension is scheduled for December 2.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is officially listed on the injury report as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Packers even though Floyd says his injured knee “feels good” today.
Floyd banged knees with a teammate in practice Wednesday. An MRI showed that there was no major damage. But Floyd was unable to practice yesterday or today.
He was in good spirits in the locker room, though, and shared a good laugh with reporters when I asked him about the crutches that had been leaning up against his locker stall the past two days.
Floyd glanced back at them and said unconvincingly, “No, they’re not my crutches.”
“Yeah, right,” said a couple of reporters while the rest of us chuckled.
“Somebody must have left them there,” Floyd said with a grin before joining in the laughter.
Floyd indicated that he would like to play but said that the decision will be up to head coach Mike Zimmer and the team’s medical staff.
“It’s all in Coach’s hands,” he said. “I go as he go.”
As for left tackle Matt Kalil, who missed practice today, Zimmer said that he is dealing with a “minor aggravation.” Zimmer would not say where, but it was listed as a knee injury on the injury report. Kalil, of course, had minor knee surgery in the offseason. He is listed as questionable for Sunday, but on his way out of the locker room he said he expects to play.
Running back Matt Asiata has been ruled out with a concussion.
Wide receivers Greg Jennings (rib) and Jarius Wright (hamstring) are both questionable for Sunday.
Running back Jerick McKinnon (lower back), outside linebacker Anthony Barr (knee), offensive tackle Mike Harris (ankle), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle), defensive Everson Griffen (neck), tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) are among those officially listed as probable to take on the Packers.
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was excused from practice today for personal reasons.
Teddy Bridgewater turned 22 less than two weeks ago, yet he said this week he is ready to be the face of the franchise for the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings.
In two months, Gophers sophomore QB Mitch Leidner will turn 21, and already he carries the weight of expectations on his shoulders.
These two quarterbacks figure to play a major role in the fortunes of their teams for the rest of this season and the foreseeable future. Neither can do it alone. Both have shown flashes of being good at their respective levels. Both have shown they have a lot of room for improvement.
The fair way to judge each of them for the rest of this year and going forward will not be against the very best established QBs at their respective levels, but rather against themselves.
Are they making progress? That will be the question. Are they learning from their mistakes? That will be the key. Are they evolving to the point that their positives increasingly overtake their negatives? That will be the test.
But we can’t expect them to be what they are not yet — particularly when Bridgewater is playing behind a shaky offensive line and Leidner’s wide receivers remain a question mark.
We can wish that they had taken bigger steps already that might have allowed the Gophers and Vikings to pull off key wins last weekend against Ohio State and the Bears, respectively, but we can’t demand it this week in two more big games against Nebraska and Green Bay. All we can do is watch, wait and evaluate.
Running back Matt Asiata and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd were not practicing during the open portion of practice today, and their statuses for Sunday against the Packers appears to be in doubt.
Asiata has not been cleared by the league’s concussion protocol and has not practiced at all this week. Fellow running back Jerick McKinnon, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a lower back injury, practiced today for the second straight day. Ben Tate was at practice today, too, of course.
Floyd, meanwhile, has missed two straight practices with a knee injury. He was listed as limited on Wednesday, but we have not seen him since. We have, however, seen crutches next to his locker.
Wide receivers Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright both practiced today. Jennings missed the previous two practices with a rib injury. Wright sat out only Wednesday with a hamstring injury.
There was one more absentee today, and it was a new one: left tackle Matt Kalil. He was at practice Wednesday and Thursday and was not listed on the injury report. But no sign of him this morning.
For the Vikings’ Week 12 matchup against the Packers, we spoke once again to Tyler Dunne, Packers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for this week’s edition of “Behind Enemy Lines.” Here are five questions we asked Dunne about the final regular season matchup between Packers-Vikings.
1. Last time we saw the Packers, they were relaxing. Now, they’re on fire. What has occurred over the last five games to make them one of the best teams in the NFC?
TD: Aaron Rodgers has been basically unstoppable for Green Bay with 28 touchdowns and three interceptions that really weren’t even his fault. His accuracy has been off the charts, and he continues to find the locate and attack the sore spot in any defense. The moment, Chicago’s secondary was on the wrong page two weeks ago — some in single-high, some in Cover 2 — he hit Jordy Nelson for a deep touchdown. Two other trends are also in his favor. A.) The offensive line has stayed in tact and shut down some pretty strong pass rushers. The Eagles didn’t even hit Rodgers once outside their one sack. And B.) Eddie Lacy has developed into a dangerous receiver. At 240, he’s a load to take down in the open field.
2. The running game struggled up until the Packers’ first meeting against the Vikings. Has Green Bay been able to sustain its running game success since?
TD: Lacy averaged 6.9 yards per carry last week, but only had 10 attempts. Until teams decide to take away the deep ball and keep two safeties back, Rodgers will go to the air. At some point, they expect defenses to go to Cover 2 looks — what gave them some problems in 2012. And then they’ll really be leaning on Lacy to be a workhorse. That Vikings win was really his breakout game. Since then, it seems like he’s been running without hesitation and with that tackle-breaking edge. As the weather worsens, everyone around here expects his role to grow to some degree.
3. What has led to the increase in turnovers created by Green Bay’s defense? The Packers have forced 12 turnovers over the last five games.
TD: Pressure up front. Specifically, Julius Peppers. They haven’t had a real threat other than Clay Matthews since Dom Capers arrived in 2009. Peppers is making one or two plays a win that change that game. Last week, he dropped into coverage — something the Eagles later said they never expected out of that particular look — and picked off Mark Sanchez for a touchdown. On another play, he clouded Sanchez’s vision and Tramon Williams picked off the quarterback. He’s getting pressure and allowing Capers to get creative with the X’s and O’s. This time last year, Capers was forced to get very vanilla.
4. How has linebacker Clay Matthews looked at inside linebacker and how has that helped Green Bay’s defense?
TD: He’s been a substantial upgrade over what they had. It’s been a major position of weakness and with the run defense dead last in the NFL over the bye week, the Packers needed to do something. Matthews gives the Packers about 20 more pounds at that position with more relentlessness. He’s still lining up outside on third-and-long’s and even as a fifth rusher on the line. Dom Capers is trying to keep him on the move to confuse defenses. But inside, he has helped shore up a hurting position. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to play with a three-touchdown lead. It’ll get interesting whenever the Packers are in a close game if Matthews continues to stuff the run.
5. What do the Packers need to do to win on Sunday?
TD: Keep Rodgers on the field. The Vikings’ best shot at an upset will be playing a game of keepaway with Rodgers — they’ll need to shorten the game and put long drives together. So if the Packers simply string together scoring drives as they did the last match-up, they’ll be OK. Still, it’s a road game against a hungry team. Anything can happen.