EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A.J. Jefferson’s value to the Minnesota Vikings early this season has been limited since he was acquired following the preseason as the Arizona Cardinals tried to make moves to reach the 53-man roster limit.
Jefferson was inactive his first game, and has slowly gained more playing time on special teams and as the fourth cornerback in recent weeks. He has one tackle this season.
But he was a popular player around the team facilities this week in preparation for Minnesota’s game Sunday against Arizona.
“I feel involved a little bit more,” Jefferson said, joking that he feels like he’s part of the coaching staff.
Jefferson said he met with coaches for about 45 minutes on Monday and expects to get more questions as the week goes on.
“I got questions from all the coaches,” Jefferson said. “They want to know about the defensive guys. They want to know what I think about the receivers. Special teams coaches want to know what I think about their players there. I try to give them my best scouting report and they can run with it.”
Jefferson signed with the Cardinals as a rookie free agent in 2010 out of Fresno State. He spent two years with Arizona and ended up playing 15 games last season, starting seven. The Vikings ended up sending unspecified draft picks to the Cardinals for Jefferson as both teams tried to finalize their rosters.
Minnesota felt Jefferson had the experience and upside to help a secondary that the team had focused on upgrading. And now the Vikings (4-2) want to tap his knowledge to beat Arizona (4-2) this week.
“We’re tapping,” Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said, smiling. “Our offensive staff met with him on Monday. Our special teams coach met with him, so yes, we are definitely talking with him about some of their personnel and some of the things he can provide information-wise.”
Jefferson believes he can help. He also wouldn’t mind a little revenge in the process.
“Oh yeah, no question,” Jefferson said. “Anytime you get traded away, you definitely want to put it on the team that you’re playing that traded you.”
Peterson misses practice: Running back Adrian Peterson was held out of Wednesday’s practice as he deals with continued soreness in his left ankle.
Peterson twisted the ankle two weeks ago in the team’s win against Tennessee, injuring it on the second play of the game. But Peterson played through the injury and also played in last week’s game.
Frazier didn’t feel Peterson would need to miss Sunday’s game, but wanted to give him time to rest the ankle.
Defensive end Jared Allen (groin), cornerback Antoine Winfield (knee), safety Robert Blanton (hamstring), linebacker Marvin Michell (calf) and safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) were listed as limited during Wednesday’s practice. Quarterback Christian Ponder (knee) and receiver Jerome Simpson (low back) were full participants.
Wide receiver duo set to return to Minnesota: The Cardinals feature a pair of former Minnesota prep stars in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Fitzgerald, who played locally at Holy Angels, has returned and played in the Metrodome previously with Arizona but this will be the first trip back for Floyd, selected by Arizona in the first round of April’s draft out of Notre Dame where Floyd was teammates with three of the Vikings’ Notre Dame alums, Kyle Rudolph, Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton.
Fitzgerald, a six-time Pro Bowler, leads Arizona with 36 catches for 430 yards this season with three touchdowns. Fitzgerald is eighth in the NFL in catches, 13 behind Minnesota’s Percy Harvin.
Floyd, who started at Cretin-Derham Hall, has been slow to develop in his rookie season. He has seven catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
“I think that he’s growing as a young receiver,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “And he’ll continue to get more opportunities. He made a big catch for us last week in the game. He’s a rookie, and he’s had some struggles, which all rookies do. But the one thing you like about Michael is the way he works and the way he wants to compete. So we’re pleased with his progress, and hopefully we’ll be able to get him more opportunities going forward.”
Working with Fitzgerald has been helpful for Floyd, with Fitzgerald taking on a mentorship role with Floyd.
“I think from the standpoint of the way he works and the way he prepares,” Whisenhunt said. “It shows a good example of how you do it at the top level in the NFL. One of the things about Larry is that he never wants to take a rep off, never wants to miss anything, he’s always working. That sets the standard for young guys. So I think Michael has a good mentor in him. I know how much affection Larry has for him, not only because of the type of player he is, but also because of where he’s from. So he has a kinship with him.”