Some notes from the St. Louis Rams practice as they get ready for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at the Edward Jones Dome:
-Cornerback Cortland Finnegan, safety Craig Dahl, running back Steven Jackson, linebacker James Laurinaitis, tight end Mike McNeill and center Scott Wells were all absent from practice Wednesday. Of those, only Dahl (concussion) and McNeill (thigh) seem to be threats to miss Sunday’s game. Fisher wasn’t questioned about the severity of any injuries after practice.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola was a limited participant, a promising development for his availability Sunday. Amendola has missed the past two games with a foot injury.
Dahl has had his ups and downs during his Rams career, but his injury couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for the defense. Dahl’s biggest strength is his tackling ability, and the Rams are going to need it against the Vikings’ third-ranked rushing attack. The Vikings are averaging 156.2 rushing yards per game through 13 games.
-Speaking of that rushing attack, the Rams have had some big challenges in recent weeks, but none may be bigger than the challenge of stopping the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. Peterson has rushed 265 times for 1,600 yards, averaging a video game-like 6.0 yards per carry. Of Peterson’s 10 touchdowns this season, he’s had touchdown runs of 61, 64 and 82 yards.
And against conventional wisdom, Peterson is actually getting better as the season goes on. After some relatively pedestrian rushing averages through the first six games, Peterson hasn’t had a game of less than 100 yards on the ground and has had a rushing average below 6.0 only once in those seven games.
Despite Peterson’s heroics, the Vikings are only 3-4 in that time. Still, the Rams’ defensive focus will be wholly on stopping Peterson come Sunday. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said it won’t just be the defense’s job to keep Peterson under wraps.
“Our key to defending Adrian Peterson is keeping Sam (Bradford) under center,” Fisher said. “I mean, that’s the only chance you’ve got. You’ve got to keep him on the bench.”
-Peterson is one major threat the Vikings pose, but fortunately for the Rams another of Minnesota’s threats will not be on the field Sunday.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Harvin is one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL when healthy, lining up all over the offense. Harvin had 62 receptions for 677 yards in nine games before the injury.
“Percy’s a big time player, there’s no question about that,” Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier. “The numbers he was putting up, he was on pace to have an MVP-type season as well, but we’ve got some young guys who have filled that role and are trying to make some plays for us … we have some other guys who’ve kind of stepped up and are trying to help us fill that role. But, Percy’s a hard guy to replace.”