EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Brian Robison’s homecoming in Houston might just include a return to the field.
Robison, who suffered a Grade-3 AC sprain of his right shoulder in last week’s game at St. Louis, returned to practice for the Minnesota Vikings in a limited capacity on Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s important matchup with 12-2 Houston. Minnesota, currently sitting in the final Wild Card spot in the NFC, needs a win to improve its tenuous hold on a playoff spot.
Robison is a half-sack shy of his career-high with 7.5, but his ability to hold strong against the run as the starting right defensive end will be important against the Texans’ fifth-ranked running game.
“That he feels good about it tomorrow,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Robison’s best-case scenario. “He has to go through some treatment right now with (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman, so have to see how he feels from some of the things we took him through today. What he has to say will make a difference. We saw some things today that makes us think he may have a chance but he has to feel it both mentally and physically, so we have to talk with him.”
Running back Adrian Peterson, 188 rushing yards away from 2,000 for the season, returned to practice Friday and is expected to play Sunday. Peterson is listed on the injury report with abdominal and groin injuries and called it just “normal wear and tear.”
Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield practiced on a limited basis Friday. The Vikings have tried to rest the 14-year veteran in practices as the season has progressed, keeping him fresh for games. Peterson and Winfield are listed as probable.
Left tackle Matt Kalil returned to practice Friday and is feeling better after dealing with a stomach illness this week and missing two days of practice. Kalil was a full participant on Friday and is listed as probable.
“He’s got to get a lot of fluids in him,” Frazier said. “It was good that he was here today, able to go through some things because he did miss some time, but Jeff Davidson, our offensive line coach, was able to go over and spend time with him, watch tape with him at his home. That helped us from a mental standpoint, just physically we didn’t have him.”
Defensive end Jared Allen (shoulder), punter Chris Kluwe (left knee/right groin), tackle Phil Loadholt (knee), safety Mistral Raymond (ankle), defensive end Everson Griffen (elbow) and returner Marcus Sherels (quadriceps/elbow) practiced fully on Friday and are probable for Sunday
Houston had 18 players listed on its injury report, but cornerback Alan Ball is the only player who didn’t participate in Friday’s practice. Starters, nose tackle Shaun Cody (back), defensive end Antonio Smith (ankle), cornerback Johnathan Joseph (groin), safety Glover Quin (hip), linebacker Darryl Sharpton (toe), linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) and guard Wade Smith (knee/ribs) were limited participants in Friday’s practice.
Tight end Owen Daniels appeared on the injury report for the first time Friday, but was a full participant with a hamstring injury.
Vikings dance it off: Minnesota lightened the mood before Friday’s practice with a breakdance competition against Fred Evans and Everson Griffen with the entire team circled around.
“Those guys have been doing a lot of talking about who is the best dancer so the players got them to put up or shut up,” Frazier joked Friday after practice. “I would have to say, I think Fred got him there. Fred Evans surprised everybody. He did a pretty good job, some pretty good moves. Impressive.”
Minnesota has two games remaining in its unlikely playoff run and faces a difficult task against 12-2 Houston this week and Frazier thought the loose atmosphere Friday could help Sunday and shows the players are having fun after last year’s 3-13 struggles.
“That’s very important. You don’t want to go into a game like this tight or tense because of the circumstances, you really want to go out there and play with great confidence and not be all wound tight,” Frazier said. “They are not wound tight. That is definitely the truth.”