NFL Nation: Kevin Williams

Veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams told ESPN.com NFL Nation Vikings reporter Ben Goessling that he took a little less money to sign with the Seattle Seahawks than the New England Patriots. With the specifics of Williams' contract now known, there is some added context on how far the Patriots were willing to extend financially.

Williams
Via colleague Field Yates, Williams' deal breaks down this way:

Term/total value: One year, $2.1 million
Signing bonus: $250,000
Base salary: $1.5 million ($250,000 guaranteed)
Incentives: Up to $350,000 in per-game roster bonuses

With Williams electing to sign in Seattle, here is a snapshot look at the Patriots' defensive tackle depth chart, with a quick-hit thought on each player:

Vince Wilfork (6-2, 325): Captain and 11-year veteran is making progress in his return from a ruptured Achilles last September. Looks to be moving well.

Tommy Kelly (6-6, 310): Another 11-year veteran, he took another step in his return from a torn ACL by participating in 11-on-11 drills Tuesday.

Dominique Easley (6-2, 288): First-round draft choice is coming off two torn ACLs over the past 22 months, suffered in college, and has yet to take the field this spring.

Chris Jones (6-1, 309) Second-year player was claimed on waivers last year and led all Patriots defensive tackles in snaps played in 2013. Best when penetrating.

Sealver Siliga (6-2, 325): After a slow start to his career, the run-stuffer looks like he has built some momentum as a developmental prospect behind Wilfork.

Armond Armstead (6-5, 305): The former Southern Cal and Canadian Football League standout has been sidelined for most of spring camps after missing all of last season with an infection.

Joe Vellano (6-2, 300): Hard-working second-year player from Maryland is a lunch pail type of guy who plays with top effort.

Marcus Forston (6-3, 305): Second-year player has spent multiple seasons on the practice squad and has filled in when injuries hit.

L.T. Tuipulotu (6-1, 305): Undrafted free agent from Utah is on the developmental track.

Seali'i Epenesa (6-1, 310): Undrafted free agent from UCLA was signed on Tuesday.
 

RENTON, Wash. – The Seahawks have wanted to add veteran depth on the defensive line since the offseason started. It finally happened Thursday when they signed 33-year-old defensive tackle Kevin Williams to a one-year deal in excess of $2 million, ESPN’s Ed Werder first reported and the Seahawks later confirmed.

Williams is a six-time Pro Bowl selection for the Minnesota Vikings, who has 60 career sacks. He was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.

Williams is 6-foot-5, 310 pounds. He started 15 games for the Vikings last season and had 17 tackles and 3 sacks. He has started all but five games in his 11-year NFL career. He just completed a seven-year, $50 million contract with the Vikings.

Williams' deal with Seattle likely is contingent of him making the team. If so, the Seahawks probably will use Williams in a rotation with starters Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel. Williams helps make up for the loss of defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent.

Signing Williams also could mean the Seahawks aren’t sure how much second-year defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams are ready to contribute.
Training camp is still more than six weeks away, but for the moment, the Buffalo Bills look a little thin at defensive tackle.

Dareus
Marcell Dareus' off-field troubles have led to him sitting out the remainder of organized team activities. His likely replacement in the lineup, Alan Branch, hasn't been at voluntary OTAs and isn't in contact with the coaching staff.

With defensive captain and Pro Bowler Kyle Williams entrenched at one defensive tackle spot, the Bills used Corbin Bryant in Dareus' place Tuesday. Bryant has been in the NFL for three seasons but has little playing experience and is undersized. The Bills would hold their breath if they had to start him in a regular-season game.

The same holds true for the other three players on the Bills' depth chart at the position: Stefan Charles, Damien Jacobs and Colby Way. The latter two are undrafted free agents clawing for a roster spot. Charles showed promise in limited duty last season but is raw.

Bills coach Doug Marrone was blunt Tuesday about Branch, saying he has "no idea" where the veteran has been. The expectation is that Branch will show up for mandatory minicamp later this month, but missing three weeks of OTAs as Jim Schwartz tries to install his defensive scheme won't help Branch's cause.

Dareus' status, meanwhile, is tenuous. The NFL could suspend him for either of his recent legal incidents, while it's no guarantee that his upcoming two-week absence from the team will prevent him from running into further trouble.

That leads to the following question: Should the Bills add veteran insurance at defensive tackle?

The Bills have about $7.5 million in cap space, plenty to sign even a higher-priced free agent. For some players remaining on the free-agent market, they're holding out hope for a bigger-money deal from a team that is more desperate to plug a hole than they were in March.

For others, the question is often health. Is the player still in "football shape" and will he be effective even during the rigors of an NFL training camp?

If the Bills chose to hedge their bets at defensive tackle this summer and add another veteran to the mix, here are some of their options:

Kevin Williams: He's easily the biggest name on the market. He'll turn 34 this August but missed only one game last season for the Minnesota Vikings. At 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds, Williams has the size to replace Dareus or Branch in a pinch. He's a six-time Pro Bowler who notched three sacks last season for the Vikings, so he's probably demanding more than a minimum contract. This would be a more costly insurance policy.

Isaac Sopoaga: Released by the New England Patriots earlier this offseason, Sopoaga hasn't found a new home. He turns 33 in September and wasn't a good fit with New England after being traded by the Philadelphia Eagles mid-season. Still, he's a 330-pounder who could provide more bulk along the defensive line than Bryant, Charles or either undrafted rookie. His price tag would also be significantly less than Williams'.

Aubrayo Franklin: Much like Sopoaga, Franklin is a big body in the middle of a defensive line but is aging. He turns 34 in August and has been well-traveled in recent seasons, most recently starting 15 games for a subpar Indianapolis Colts defense. His price tag wouldn't be too high.
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Vikings made their final round of cuts Aug. 31, trimming their roster to 53, they had a nine-man group of defensive linemen that looked like this:

Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Sharrif Floyd, Everson Griffen, Chase Baker and George Johnson.

Williams
Griffen
The group was highlighted, as usual, by two productive pass rushers, but four of its nine players were over 30. The group lacked bulk up the middle and depth at the end of the group, and the Vikings were waiting on a breakout year from Griffen that never really came.

Six months later, after a sweeping set of changes precipitated by a new coaching staff, the Vikings' top eight defensive linemen currently look like this:

Robison, Floyd, Griffen, Evans, Linval Joseph, Corey Wootton, Tom Johnson and Baker, with a draft pick or two possibly coming.

Five players in that group will be 27 or younger by the start of the season. Robison and Evans will be the oldest at 31, and in Joseph, the Vikings have their first true road grader since Pat Williams.

It's a striking overhaul to a position that had been the Vikings' hallmark for years under Allen and Kevin Williams. This group still could be the identity of Mike Zimmer's defense, but it figures to be younger, nastier and tougher up the middle, befitting a defense that's designed to be structurally sound and stout against the run.

In some ways, this had been coming since last spring, when the Vikings drafted Floyd, decided not to pursue a contract extension for Allen and asked Williams to void the 2014 season on his contract while taking a $2.5 million pay cut in 2013. Both Allen and Williams sensed it at the end of the season, giving a handful of valedictory speeches in December press conferences and talking about how their relationship would continue once they were done playing together.

Allen and the Vikings decided to part ways before the start of free agency, and while general manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings would keep the door open for Willliams, it seemed obvious the Vikings had other plans. Williams said Wednesday he hadn't heard from the Vikings in a week, and the team signed Johnson to add depth at the three-technique tackle position the same day. And then, to make the inevitable somewhat official, he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Thursday night he was even more sure his time with the Vikings was over.

It's a coldly efficient way for one of the Vikings' great defensive players to see his time with the team end, but it's the order of the NFL in 2014. The Vikings have swept through their defensive line remodel with little attachment to their past, and they've come out from at least the first phase of it with a markedly different look to the group. The ultimate success of their plan will depend on young players -- most notably Griffen and Floyd -- turning their potential into legitimate production, but at some point, the Vikings had to detach from their past and attempt going in this direction.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Former New Orleans Saints defensive lineman Tom Johnson is at the Minnesota Vikings' team facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., for a physical today, and will sign a one-year, $845,000 deal that could pay him up to another $600,000 in incentives, according to a league source.

Johnson, who played defensive end in the Saints' 3-4 scheme, had interest from the Cowboys, Bears, Dolphins and Seahawks in addition to the Vikings, according to the source, but the Vikings and Cowboys stood out as the best fits for Johnson at three-technique tackle. Once the Cowboys signed former Bears tackle Henry Melton, the Vikings were an obvious match, the source said.

His deal with the Vikings will pay him a $645,000 base salary and a $100,000 roster bonus, in addition to signing and workout bonuses of $50,000 each. His incentives will be based on playing time and sacks, and will kick in at different tiers.

The addition of the 29-year-old Johnson, who's shown some effectiveness as a rotational player, again likely means that Kevin Williams' time in Minnesota is just about over. The six-time Pro Bowler said on Wednesday he's waiting to see what the Vikings do, and hadn't had any contact with them since last week. Williams said his chances of a return to the Vikings look like "slim pickings," and the way the team has added younger defensive linemen seems to signal they're headed in a direction that wouldn't necessarily be compatible with Williams, who will be 34 before the season starts.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Defensive tackle Henry Melton, who visited the Minnesota Vikings last week, won't be signing with the team for next season.

Melton tweeted on Tuesday evening he is planning to join the Dallas Cowboys, and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Melton has a multi-year deal with the team. The Vikings had stayed in contact with Melton's agent since the former Chicago Bears defensive tackle visited the team last week, but Melton, who is from Grapevine, Tex., and had played for Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli in Chicago, went where he had the most familiarity.

For two veteran Vikings defensive linemen -- Jared Allen and Kevin Williams -- the move might have opposite effects. The Cowboys had just $7 million in cap space before signing Melton, and it seems unlikely they'd be able to afford Allen (who visited the Cowboys on Tuesday) after landing Melton.

The Vikings, on the other hand, still have an opening for another three-technique tackle in their defensive line rotation, and we'll see now how serious they are about bringing Williams back. General manager Rick Spielman said last Friday the Vikings had not made a decision on Williams, but added the team had told the six-time Pro Bowler it had "some other needs that we definitely wanted to get done first."

We'll see now where Williams ranks in the Vikings' pecking order of potential three-technique tackles -- if he's their next option orif they'd pursue another possibility in free agency or the draft. Former Raiders defensive tackle Pat Sims played for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati, though Sims could still be looking for a bigger role and contract than the Vikings would be able to offer after a strong year in Oakland.

The Vikings missed out on a unique opportunity (albeit with some risk) now that Melton will play his first year after ACL surgery in Dallas. But Floyd looked more assertive toward the end of the season, and his footwork could make him a good fit for Zimmer's defense. The Vikings likely won't pin the whole workload on the second-year tackle, though, and with Melton gone, they'll have to decide how they want to go about adding another player to share part of the job with Floyd.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming off a frustrating season where he played much of the year with a broken left wrist and heading into a season where he was due to count $8.2 million against the Vikings' salary cap, 31-year-old linebacker Chad Greenway seemed like a possible candidate to restructure his deal with the team. Now, he has.

Greenway
Greenway dropped his base salary to $5.5 million for the 2014 season, saving the Vikings $1 million in exchange for a fully guaranteed salary. The move, first reported by overthecap.com, is the third contract restructuring the Vikings have done in a week, following similar moves for safety Jamarca Sanford and fullback Jerome Felton. All told, the moves saved the Vikings $1.75 million under the cap, and they still have just over $16 million to play with after signing former San Diego Chargers cornerback Derek Cox, with wide receiver Jerome Simpson's contract still not on the NFL Players Association ledger.

The way the Vikings restructured Greenway's deal is reminiscent of what they did with Kevin Williams in 2013 (except the Vikings also voided a year of Williams' contract in that case). It effectively protects Greenway from being cut, since the Vikings are on the hook for his entire $5.5 million salary. Greenway saw his play slip in 2014, though his broken wrist undoubtedly had something to do with it. He will have to adapt to new coach Mike Zimmer's defense, which asks linebackers to be more active than the Vikings' old Cover-2 system did, but the change could also rejuvenate Greenway, who seemed at times like he was trying to cover for the inexperience of other linebackers last season.

Felton's base salary drops $500,000 for next season, and Sanford's deal saved the Vikings another $250,000. According to overthecap.com, Felton is also able to void the final year of his deal after the 2015 Super Bowl.
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Minnesota Vikings were going to have the kind of defensive line Mike Zimmer wanted -- one that could stand up against the run, occupy blockers and give linebackers the room to run free -- they needed the kind of junkyard dog lineman they haven't had since Pat Williams. They needed a big, hulking presence who tips the scales at more than 300 pounds and can take on two blockers at a time. They needed someone who would be hard to move at the point of attack.

Joseph
They needed someone like Linval Joseph.

The Vikings' first external signing of the free-agency period was made to fill a sizable need in the middle of their line -- and not just because Joseph checks in at 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds. After gambling on the undersized Letroy Guion's ability to succeed Williams at the position, the Vikings' run defense had gone from formidable to mediocre at best. Gone were the days of the Williams Wall, when Pat and Kevin Williams made the Vikings nearly impenetrable and forced teams to try their luck against the team's effective pass rush. The Vikings needed a tackle like Joseph to help them move back in that direction -- especially with the style of defense Zimmer wants to play.

The move, which will cost the Vikings a handsome $31.5 million over the next five years, helps them remake the defense in Zimmer's image. Before his linemen think about shooting gaps, they're instructed to engage offensive linemen and keep them from getting to the linebackers. It's not all that different than what linemen are asked to do in a 3-4 scheme (though the Vikings are sticking with a 4-3), and since Pat Williams left, the Vikings haven't had anyone who could affect an offensive front like Joseph could. Joseph has managed to post nine sacks in the past three years, even while fulfilling his responsibilities as a run defender, so the guess here is the Vikings were fairly high on him.

Now, they'll have three high-paid players (Joseph, Everson Griffen and Brian Robison) and a first-round pick (Sharrif Floyd) set to start on their line. It's not impossible that Kevin Williams could come back as a rotational player, but as we've discussed, he'd find a markedly different scheme than what he's used to in Minnesota if he does return.

The Joseph signing made it clear how high a priority the Vikings placed on fixing the first line of Zimmer's defense. It's not a top-of-the-page headline-grabber, but if Joseph does his job, it's a sensible move that fills a critical need on the Vikings' defense.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts want to improve on being 26th in the league in stopping the run last season.

There’s no better place to start than at nose tackle.

Aubrayo Franklin is a free agent after starting there last season.

The Colts are still high on Josh Chapman, but that’s a position where you need multiple bodies.

A name to keep an eye on once free agency starts Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET is Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones. Colts coach Chuck Pagano is familiar with Jones from when he was defensive coordinator of the Ravens.

Jones had a career-high 53 tackles to go with four sacks last season. Franklin and Chapman combined for 44 tackles and zero sacks last season.

The Colts have the salary-cap space to pay Jones, who is only 27 years old.

“He has definitely put himself in a position that teams could definitely bid on him very high because if you put the tape on, they’re going to like him a lot,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters during the NFL scouting combine last month. “… It’s probably the one contract that he’ll have a chance to sign, a real big one. Guys that sign two big contracts, that’s very unusual. Three almost never happens, so you never feel bad about a guy getting an opportunity.”

Here’s a look at some other defensive tackles who will be on the market:

Free-agency primer: Vikings

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
11:00
AM ET
» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: QB Matt Cassel, DE Jared Allen, DT Kevin Williams, DE Everson Griffen, CB Chris Cook, WR Jerome Simpson

Where they stand: The Vikings' biggest issue is at quarterback, where Christian Ponder is the only player they have under contract. They've told Cassel's agent they want to bring him back, but that could depend on how much more interest Cassel attracts on the free-agent market. Of the free agents on the Vikings' defensive line, Griffen probably has the best chance of returning to Minnesota to play in Mike Zimmer's new-look defense. But he, too, could attract attention from teams who think he can be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

What to expect: Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson could find a natural landing spot in Minnesota because of his familiarity with Zimmer and the Vikings' likely need for a new right end. Tennessee cornerback Alterraun Verner, who played for new Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray in Tennessee, could also make sense for Minnesota, though both Verner and Johnson will have plenty of suitors. The Vikings have more than $40 million in cap space, though, so they could be contenders for both. If Cassel doesn't come back, the Vikings will also have to pursue another veteran quarterback; running back Adrian Peterson tweeted on Wednesday that Michael Vick could quickly turn the team into a playoff contender.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings continued to remake their defensive line on Thursday afternoon, releasing defensive tackle Letroy Guion and clearing another $4 million of cap room by shedding the final year of the 26-year-old's deal. That move, along with the release of wide receiver Greg Childs, gives the Vikings more than $41 million in cap room heading into the start of free agency next week.

Allen
If they wanted to, they could certainly use some of it to re-sign veteran defensive linemen Jared Allen and Kevin Williams. But as new coach Mike Zimmer molds the team's defense to fit his scheme, Allen and Williams could find there is not much familiarity in a return to their old team.

Zimmer's defenses traditionally have emphasized run discipline, particularly on the defensive line, over big sack numbers. Both Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson posted double-digit sacks in 2012, but no other Bengals defensive lineman reached double-digit sacks in Zimmer's seven seasons as defensive coordinator. Zimmer said again on Thursday that the Vikings will emphasize run defense in their linemen's techniques and assignments, and added Allen would have to decide whether he would buy into the scheme the coach is planning to run.

"He’s the one that would have to decide that he wants to come back and fit into what we do and how we do it," Zimmer said. "He has to decide how much money that needs to be due for him to buy into doing that. And we’re the ones that have to decide how much we want to pay him for that, too."

Allen has often talked about how he's paid primarily to rush the passer, and said last season -- as he was in danger of seeing his streak of double-digit sack seasons end at seven -- that posting 10-plus sacks means "the world" to him. It sounded like Zimmer was saying, in so many words, that Allen wouldn't be able to count on that happening if he returned to Minnesota. The Vikings will certainly take sacks when they can get them under Zimmer, but they won't be sending their linemen upfield past blockers, especially when an incorrect guess about an offense's play call can leave a defensive end out of position to play the run.

It has already seemed unlikely to me that Allen would be back in Minnesota, simply because other teams could offer him a chance to do what he's done best over the years and put him closer to a championship. The fact that he -- and to a lesser extent, Williams -- would have to adjust his role with the Vikings might make the chances of a return even slimmer.
Every day we'll take a look at one of the Minnesota Vikings heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before and a prognosis on whether or not he'll be back with the club in 2014.

Williams
Free agent to be: Kevin Williams

Position: Defensive tackle

Age:33

Years in the league: 11

What he made last season: $5,000,000 (cap number); $5,000,000 (cash value)

What he did last season: Williams saw far more action than the Vikings were initially planning to give him, playing 66 percent of the team's defensive snaps after the Vikings began the year hoping to limit Williams to between 30 and 40 snaps a game. He had 3.5 sacks, getting 2.5 of those in a cameo at nose tackle on Nov. 7 against the Redskins. Williams fared better as a pass-rusher than he did as a run-stopper, where he was too often moved aside, but in his 11th season, Williams was still one of the Vikings' more reliable defensive tackles.

His potential market value: It's tough to see a team giving Williams more than a one-year deal, but his durability and the fact he can still provide some pass-rushing help might land him a job for his 12th season. He missed the season opener last year, marking the first time he'd sat out because of an injury since 2005, and played through knee problems most of the year after being injured on a low block in the Vikings' third preseason game. If a team were signing Williams for 20-25 snaps a game, he might still provide value.

Will he still fit the Vikings? It's tough to see anything more than a minor role for him, but it's possible, considering how long it took Sharrif Floyd to emerge last year and how many question marks the Vikings have in the middle of their defensive line. Williams is as well-respected as they come -- though a similar locker room cache wasn't enough to keep Antoine Winfield with the team last year -- and he's said he wants to stay in Minnesota. At the right price, he might be worth retaining.

What happens: Williams moves on, signing a one-year deal with another team as the Vikings look to get younger on their defensive line. And after his eventual retirement, whether it's a year from now or several years from now, he's inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor.

Countdown to Combine: Vikings

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
12:00
PM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Welcome to our Vikings-specific preview of the NFL scouting combine, which kicks off on Thursday in Indianapolis. We'll be previewing four positions this week the Vikings could address in the draft. I'm inclined to stay away from the quarterback position, since we've talked so much about it already (and will continue to talk about it). This can be a place to look at the other areas the Vikings could address, many of them being on defense. We'll get started there, with a look at the defensive line.

Position of need: Defensive line

The Vikings could be facing a time of transition at the position, with both Jared Allen and Kevin Williams set to hit free agency after burnishing their Hall of Fame credentials in their time in Minnesota. Defensive end Everson Griffen is a free agent, as well, though the Vikings seem likely to re-sign him. But the team could still be in the market for a taller defensive end along the lines of the ends new coach Mike Zimmer had in Cincinnati, in addition to another defensive tackle.

Three players the Vikings might be targeting:

Louis Nix (DT), Notre Dame: Nix is an absolute load at nose tackle, and could give the Vikings the kind of impenetrable force they haven't had since Pat Williams. He could free Sharrif Floyd up to be the kind of upfield pass-rusher Zimmer had in Bengals' three-technique tackle Geno Atkins (and the Vikings had for many years in Kevin Williams). There are concerns about Nix's health after he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and he could have knee problems at his size (6-foot-2, 342 pounds), but he'd immediately change the face of the Vikings' run defense.

Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota: The Vikings should know plenty about the 6-foot-6 Hageman already, and they could give him a chance to continue his career in TCF Bank Stadium, where they'll play the next two seasons. The 6-foot-6 Hageman profiles as an interior lineman. He might not be refined enough to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, where he'd be asked to rush around the edge, but his size and athleticism could pique the Vikings' interest, whether he'd be an interior lineman or merit a look on the outside.

Kony Ealy, Missouri: We're assuming Jadeveon Clowney will be gone by the time the Vikings pick at No. 8, but a player like Early or Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt could make sense if the Vikings are in the market for the kind of tall defensive ends new coach Mike Zimmer had in Cincinnati. Ealy had eight sacks last season, and at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, he'd give the Vikings a player with a similar physical profile to Allen, who is a free agent this spring.
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Minnesota Vikings do plan to fire coach Leslie Frazier this week, they might first have to hear a counter-argument from their franchise player.

Peterson
Peterson
Running back Adrian Peterson said again that on Monday he plans to talk to Vikings ownership, adding he's already told the Wilf family he wants to see Frazier stay as the coach. The Vikings have reportedly been considering candidates to replace Frazier, whose contract expires after next season and who has a 21-33-1 record as the Vikings coach.

Several prominent players -- Peterson, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, defensive end Brian Robison, linebacker Chad Greenway, and quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder among them -- supported Frazier after the game, but Peterson was the boldest in backing the coach.

"He's just a man of God, first off. Great coach," Peterson said. "When you sit there and you listen to him talk and not do it every time we're in meetings, you're always gaining great knowledge from him. You've just got to be able to hold on to that and really listen and understand where he comes from. A lot of people like the rah-rah type guy. I'm more about words and what's being said. No matter how it's said, you can hold on to it and learn from it. He does a great job of being a teacher. I feel like that's what this organization needs."

Peterson also said he plans to be more involved in staying on top of the moves the front office is making, stating his feelings about what the Vikings need and hearing the team's plans for the future. He'll be 29 before next season, and though Peterson said on Sunday he plans on "being the best" well into his 30s, he's also clearly aware that his prime won't last forever. If the Vikings do fire Frazier, it will be very interesting to see how the move plays with Peterson.

Asked if he thought he could convince ownership to keep Frazier, Peterson said, "I hope so," before adding with a laugh, "But I don't want all the pressure on me.

"I hope that's that not the case (that the decision has already been made)," Peterson said. "He's a great coach, and I would love to see him stay around."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings held running back Adrian Peterson out of practice on Wednesday, and it wouldn't be surprising if they pulled Peterson out of a number of practices for the rest of the season, as he plays through a groin injury. But Peterson, who carried 32 times in Sunday's tie against the Green Bay Packers, figures to play against the Chicago Bears.

Peterson
Peterson
Coach Leslie Frazier talked this week about the possibility of giving Toby Gerhart more carries in the next few games, after Gerhart ran for 91 yards on eight carries against the Packers. The Vikings face the league's worst rushing defense this weekend, and there could be opportunities for both backs against the Bears.

In other Vikings injury news:
  • Safety Harrison Smith, who has been on injured reserve with a designation to return since October, isn't eligible to practice until Friday, according to NFL rules. The Vikings had initially planned for Smith -- who is hoping to come back from turf toe and play this season -- to practice on Wednesday, but Frazier said they'll try to get him on the field Friday.
  • Both wide receiver Joe Webb and cornerback Xavier Rhodes have passed the first stage of the NFL's concussion protocol; Frazier said both could get on the practice field Thursday if they passed another stage on Wednesday.
  • Cornerback Josh Robinson (fractured sternum) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (fractured foot) were still out of practice.
  • Defensive tackle Kevin Williams was limited with a quadriceps injury; he'd been playing with a knee injury this season, but was on the injury report because of his quadriceps for the first time on Wednesday.
  • Quarterback Christian Ponder was not listed on the Vikings' injury report, indicating he has recovered from the dislocated left shoulder he suffered on Nov. 7.

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