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We ask Vikings beat writer and PFW correspondent Judd Zulgad five burning questions about the team this week.
PFW: So how close exactly did Adrian Peterson come to not playing Sunday?
Zulgad: Very. Peterson came out at just after 10 a.m. Sunday and was watched closely by head coach Leslie Frazier and athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, among others, as RB coach Eric Bieniemy put Peterson through about a seven-minute workout to test his sprained right ankle. When that was done, Frazier, Sugarman, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman huddled for a lengthy period. Afterward, Frazier admitted he almost didn't have Peterson suit up. Peterson, though, made it clear he could play and proceeded to have one of his best games of the season as he rushed for 107 yards on 16 carries with three touchdowns.
PFW: It looked like Joe Webb figured into the game plan quite a bit Sunday before he got hurt. If he's healthy, could we see them use him more in a multidimensional role?
Zulgad: Yes. With Brad Childress gone, the Vikings planned to use Webb as a wide receiver and also could have mixed in some "Wildcat" looks. WRs Percy Harvin (migraines) and Greg Lewis (concussion) were not avaiable, and Hank Baskett was a healthy scratch. Remember, the Vikings' intention was to move Webb to receiver before Childress decided he should remain a quarterback. Webb also opened the game returning kickoffs because of Harvin's absence. The hamstring injury Webb suffered while playing on the punt unit in the first quarter meant the package of plays the Vikings had for him had to be shelved.
PFW: Another rookie, Chris DeGeare, got his first real action in place of Steve Hutchinson. Is it fair to say DeGeare has some more work to do?
Zulgad: DeGeare is very much a work in progress at left guard, but the fifth-round pick from Wake Forest did help block for a running back who gained 107 yards, so the day was not a total loss. DeGeare also was called for a false start in the third quarter. If Steve Hutchinson's broken thumb feels OK, he will be back as the starter on Sunday, but DeGeare definitely got some valuable experience and can now see what he needs to do to improve.
PFW: What were some of the positives you saw from Tarvaris Jackson on Sunday?
Zulgad: The poise he showed after throwing the pick-six in the first quarter was huge. That interception was typical Jackson in the fact he locked in on Greg Camarillo and everyone knew where the ball was going. But Jackson came back from that miscue to complete eight of his next eight passes for 104 yards with two touchdowns. That helped to bury Buffalo, so Jackson barely had to throw the ball in the second half. One key was the way Leslie Frazier handled that pick by Jackson. He told Jackson he needed him to hang in there and then said the Vikings' next offensive play was going to be a pass. That would not have happened under Brad Childress. Jackson did throw three picks total in the game, so no one should get overly excited.
PFW: Chad Greenway clearly is a very good player, but might the Vikings be forced to let him hit the market if their priorities lie in signing Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice to long-term deals? Or is Greenway ahead of Ray Edwards on the totem pole?
Zulgad: Greenway is a going to be a high priority for the Vikings. I don't see Ray Edwards returning to the franchise. Peterson and Rice also will be important — Peterson has a year left on his contract but wants a new deal — but Rice might not be easy to sign if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Rice wanted a new deal last offseason and did not get it, so he very well might explore the market depending on what happens. The Vikings, though, clearly want Greenway back, and he wants to return given he gets a fair deal.