The second day of an appeals hearing for Adrian Peterson concluded in New York this afternoon.
NFL executive Troy Vincent testified today in front of hearing officer Harold Henderson, a former league executive. Vincent, who allegedly told Peterson he would be reinstated with “time served” when his court case cleared, was questioned by NFL Players Association attorney Jeffrey Kessler.
Peterson, the suspended Vikings running back, attended the first part of the hearing on Tuesday but was not in attendance Thursday. He listened from his home in Houston, according to ESPN’s Andrew Brandt.
Peterson’s NFL-mandated suspension runs until at least April 15.
Henderson, a former NFL Executive Vice President for Labor Relations, was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFLPA requested a third-party arbitrator.
Vincent was unavailable Tuesday because he was testifying on the league’s behalf at a Senate committee hearing on domestic violence in professional sports in Washington, D.C.
The focal point of Peterson’s appeal is his belief that Vincent told him if he went on the commissioner’s exempt list he would get credit for “time served,” plus a two-game suspension. A transcript of that conversation, and a recording, were presented at Tuesday’s hearing, according to reports.
The NFL has provided no time frame for a ruling, saying that it is up to Henderson. The collective bargaining agreement says that “as soon as practicable following the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer will render a written decision which will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute.”
Pro Football Talk reported Wednesday that Henderson was urging the sides to negotiate a settlement.
Peterson was deactivated for the team’s second game after being indicted by a grand jury in Texas on a felony charge of injury to a child after evidenced surfaced of injuries to a 4-year-old son who had been beaten with a switch.
After a very brief reinstatement protested publicly by some of the league’s and team’s corporate sponsors, he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List while the court case played out. The 2012 NFL MVP plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault on Nov. 4, believing he would be able to rejoin the Vikings.
Peterson has been paid his $11.75 million salary while on the exempt list. His contract, which runs through 2017, had $36 million in guaranteed money that has already been paid out, and his salary next season would be $12.75 million.
Vikings players endured one of the coldest games in team history last Sunday, with the temperature at 12 degrees when kicker Blair Walsh boomed the opening kickoff.
As my colleague Mark Craig wrote the other day, that adjustment has been difficult for some southerners like cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. But the transition to TCF Bank Stadium has been even harder for the two men who kick the ball, Walsh and punter Jeff Locke.
The Vikings have been preparing for these games at TCF since the spring, when they sent Walsh, Locke and long snapper Cullen Loeffler there this spring to get used to kicking at the outdoor stadium. But there was no way for them to simulate this cold. And getting a feel for the wind patterns at the stadium have proved difficult, too, as they swirl different directions every week.
“It’s been really different every week,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said today. “Some similarities. But there are some differences, and it was very windy coming out of [the eastern end zone on Sunday]. And then you move out to the 30 and it’s not as bad.”
The elements don’t appear to have had a significant impact on Walsh, who hasn’t missed a field goal at TCF Bank Stadium since September, and 21 of his 38 touchbacks have come at home, including eight total the past two weeks.
They do seem to be affecting Locke, though.
At home, Locke averages fewer yards per punt (42.8 at home versus 45.0 on the road), fewer net yards (36.9 versus 39.9) and fewer punts inside the 20-yard line (six at TCF and 10 on the road).
“I’ll be honest with you, it’s hard to punt in that stadium,” Priefer said. “You guys know how cold it was. And it was windy and it was different winds at different altitudes. Our end zone, where you come out of our tunnel in pregame, was a nightmare. It was very difficult to punt from there. I was hoping that we didn’t have to punt out of that end zone. Putting up with the conditions, I think he’s done a great job with that so far. Not a lot of punters would come into that situation with his attitude and I think that’s helped him continue to get better as the year has gone on.”
Besides one poor punt resulting in a touchback, Locke had one of his better games of the season Sunday, battling the cold and wind to boot two punts inside the 20-yard line. The Panthers were unable to return any of his six punts, and Locke finished with a punting average of 41.8.
That was much better than Panthers punter Brad Nortman, who averaged just 36.5 yards per punt on the four punts the Vikings didn’t block and return for touchdowns.
Priefer said he is pleased with how Locke and Walsh are dealing with the winter weather at TCF Bank Stadium. It helps that the specialists continue to kick at the Gophers’ stadium once a week.
“That is a huge advantage, and I knew it would be because I’ve done that with kickers throughout my whole career,” Priefer said. “To go down there in the wind and the cold — it was freezing again yesterday and it was windy — they got a lot of work in. They were hoping that we would have those benches, the warming benches. Didn’t have those to keep those guys warm.”
The Vikings are formally acknowledging that receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has been demoted.
Anyone who has watched the Vikings over the past two weeks surely saw that Charles Johnson has overtaken Patterson in the starting lineup. Johnson started both games and played all but three snaps. Patterson, meanwhile, played just three offensive snaps in Sunday’s win over the Panthers.
But it is noteworthy when the coaching staff comes out and admits it like offensive coordinator Norv Turner did this afternoon.
(An example of the reluctance to do such a thing: The Vikings listed Vladimir Ducasse as the starter at right guard for a few weeks even though Joe Berger was the one continuing to play there.)
Anyway, here is what Turner said today when asked his weekly question about Patterson’s role.
“I expect Cordarrelle to play and play like he has,” Turner said. “But you know, C.J. is playing at high level. C.J. is the starter at [the split end receiver position]. That’s the position that Cordarrelle plays. We’ll give him some opportunities to play there, but C.J. is playing at a real high level right now.”
After Sunday’s win, a frustrated Patterson expressed confusion over why he only played three offensive snaps. Coach Mike Zimmer later explained that Patterson had missed the Wednesday and Thursday practices of last week, making it difficult to work him into the game plan. Today, Turner echoed those comments, though he did say he understands Patterson’s frustration.
“I think anyone that is a situation where he didn’t play last week would be frustrated. But Cordarrelle knows that he wasn’t here all week,” Turner said. “He was out of town at a funeral. It’s hard to get ready. We had a totally different game plan for Carolina.”
Patterson said again today that having a smaller role has been frustrating for him, while making sure to say all the right things about the Vikings winning being the most important thing for him.
“We all get frustrated. Not just with me, but every receiver,” said Patterson, who has 30 catches for 350 yards and a touchdown. “They want the ball, they want to play and opportunities get low sometimes. You just got to be the better person and don’t take it too personal.”
Patterson said he hopes he gets more than three offensive snaps this week, and Turner said that he expects Patterson to be a “big-time player in this offense as we go forward.”
But for the time being, Patterson will take a backseat to Johnson, who is making the plays that the second-year wide receiver wasn’t as the starter at the X receiver spot.
The Wild and Wolves both had home games on Wednesday night. It offered a somewhat rare chance for a Minnesota sports fan to make a decision on which he or she wanted to attend. More than that, it offered the possibility that one or the other — or both — would break character from the way the season has gone to date.
If you were counting on that, though, you were sorely disappointed. The Wild controlled and won its game over Montreal, but an abysmal power play overshadowed much of their good work — at least in the eyes of booing fans. Minnesota is now 7-for-78 (9 percent) with the man advantage this season. Coach Mike Yeo sounds like he’s tried everything in his bag of tricks and notes that the bad power play is the thing that’s keeping a good Wild team from being elite.
Maybe he needs to channel former Wild coach Jacques Lemaire and try a little humor. It was Lemaire who, early in the 2003-04 season, had this famous quip after the Wild started the season 0-for-12 on the power play.
“The power play, to me, it’s one of the biggest keys,” he said then. “When we started last year, our power play was really good. It was 23 percent. Now I don’t know if we got enough to make milk. It’s about 1 percent, half of one percent. ... It’s very skim milk.”
The Wolves, meanwhile, might have participated in — and lost — the worst game in the NBA this season. The 76ers, in general, are by far the league’s worst team. And the Wolves, as assembled with injuries, aren’t far behind. Losing at home to a team that was previously 0-17 is rock bottom for a franchise that knows that place all too well.
@MasterStrib What do you think has been the biggest difference in Rhodes’ superb play as of late? #VikingsST
— Alex Ehlers (@AlvinMack55) December 4, 2014
The biggest thing has been confidence. Rhodes believes in his ability, he believes in the defense and believes in the technique. He trusts his instincts and made great plays on the ball the last few games. He’s having his “aha” moment, as former Vikings safety Kurt Coleman described it during training camp.
Rhodes has always had the talent. His makeup and aggressiveness is a perfect fit for head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. Credit him and secondary coach Jerry Gray for hounding these cornerbacks since Day 1 about their specific technique at the position. Not only has Rhodes improved this year, but we’ve seen strides from cornerback Josh Robinson as well.
I’m not ready to call Rhodes a shutdown corner yet, but he’s displayed the ability to become that recently. I just need to see more of it before I go down that path, but Rhodes is on the right track – along with the rest of the defense. There’s some good, young pieces to build off at each position: defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, rookie linebacker Anthony Barr, safety Harrison Smith and Rhodes. All were Vikings draft choices, might I add. Keep that mind when you analyze general manager Rick Spielman’s draft classes and only note quarterback Christian Ponder, who didn’t pan out, and left tackle Matt Kalil, who has regressed over the last two seasons but still has time to get it together.
@MasterStrib we need McKinnon 100% so i wouldnt mind him sitting out again but from that think well see Banyard over Asiata? #VikingsST
— Teddy 2 Gloves (@SteveLamplugh) December 4, 2014
Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon didn’t participate during Wednesday’s practice due to the low back injury. He missed Sunday’s win over the Panthers as well, allowing Matt Asiata to receive the start. If McKinnon can’t play again this week, I’d expect Asiata to start again. He had a decent game considering the Vikings lead comfortably for most of the game and relied on the run. Asiata had 14 carries for 52 yards. It’s not eye-popping, but it got the job done.
Another reason why Asiata will likely start if McKinnon can’t go is he has more experience. Banyard had just five snaps against the Panthers, with Zimmer noting he missed a blocking assignment on a pass play that kept him on the sideline.
@MasterStrib Seems how it looks like Patterson has hit the wr year 2 wall, has there been talk about him possibly regressing? #VikingsST
— Jason Danielson (@jaydanny18) December 4, 2014
He’s not regressing, he just isn’t progressing. I’m not even sure I’d call it a wall. Patterson for the first time is learning what it takes to be an every down wide receiver rather than an explosive offensive threat. I’d say more than anything it’s growing pains. He’s never gone through this before, and Patterson is trying to learn what it takes to be a wide receiver.
Patterson, in his second season, is still a raw wide receiver. We were all wrong, myself included, on what to expect from Patterson because we all assumed it would come second-hand to him based off what we saw in a limited amount of playing time last season. Most of those explosive plays were quick screens or running back tosses and not necessarily double moves or deep post routes. Patterson is frustrated because essentially he’s uncomfortable, and I say that in a good way. This is all new to him, and it makes it even more challenging when the results aren’t what he’s accustomed to.
@MasterStrib What do you see as the biggest mismatch that the #Vikings offense can exploit against the #Jets D this week? #VikingsST
— Eric Thompson (@eric_j_thompson) December 4, 2014
It’s actually a decent defense, but the absence of defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson will be significant. Either way, it’ll be tough for the Vikings to establish the run against the Jets, who allow the third fewest rushing yards per game (85.2).
With that said, this might be a game where the offense relies on rookie quarterback Teddy’s Bridgewater’s arm to spread the defense out and create opportunities in the run game. Keep in mind the Jets are 31st in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert a whopping 46.7 percent on third downs. Bridgewater will have chances to make plays. We’ll see if he takes advantage of it.