EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has a high ankle sprain that will put him in a walking boot this week, leaving his availability for Sunday's game at Atlanta in question.
Coach Leslie Frazier said Monday that Peterson has a Grade 1 sprain, the least severe of the three categories, with "a little bit of" ligament damage. But Peterson will wear the boot for a few days to protect the joint and won't try to practice until Friday to determine if he'll be able to play against the Falcons.
"The good news is there's nothing more serious than that," Frazier said, adding: "He'll recover from it. It's just the amount of time that he'll miss. We'll have a better indication toward the end of the week."
Peterson was unavailable for comment Monday. He said Sunday the ankle hurt "pretty bad," but he also reminded reporters, "I'm a tough individual."
Peterson's left ankle rolled hard late in the first quarter on Sunday against Oakland while he was tackled at the end of a run. He didn't return. Peterson has missed only three games in his decorated five-year NFL career. He's currently sixth in the league in rushing with 872 yards, and his 11 rushing touchdowns are the most this season of any player.
"We don't want to put him at risk. You know how valuable he is to our team and our franchise," Frazier said. "So we'll monitor where he is and try to make a good decision with what's best for him and what's best for our team as well."
With the Vikings long out of the playoff chase, they might be wise to sit Peterson and give him more time to heal. But Frazier said the decision on whether to play him on Sunday will be "purely based on his health."
Either way, second-year running back Toby Gerhart will probably get more carries at Atlanta. Gerhart has just 24 rushing attempts, four fewer than wide receiver Percy Harvin, whose speed and skills have prompted the Vikings to use him in a variety of ways.
"It's an opportunity at Adrian's expense, which is something you don't really want. We're all hoping he gets better quick, but at the same time I'm excited. It's a chance for me to really show what I can do and be featured and have fun with it," Gerhart said.
At 2-8, the Vikings' season can't get much worse. But the sight of the star running back riding a cart into the tunnel for X-rays was not pleasant for anyone associated with the team.
"You think he's a machine, and it kind of gives you a quick reminder how our game goes, what our sport's all about," linebacker Erin Henderson said.
Tight ends Kyle Rudolph (bruised quadriceps) and Visanthe Shiancoe (strained hamstring) are also banged up from Sunday's game. Frazier said they'd be further evaluated on Wednesday to determine whether they can participate in practice.