Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/10/11
Missing from the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Monday was the team's starting quarterback, leading rusher, one of the top offensive lineman and a starting defensive end. The top cover cornerback, starting tackler and top receiving tight end were limited. All of those injuries were before the leading receiver tore a ligament in his finger during the practice. Minnesota's injury situation isn't helping the Vikings recover from their 2-10 record. All of the players had returned to practice by Friday and most are listed as probable for Sunday's game at the 7-5 Detroit Lions. Friday's biggest concerns were just the three biggest playmakers on offense quarterback Christian Ponder, running back Adrian Peterson, and receiver Percy Harvin. The most important things to watch against Detroit might just be who is lining up:1. Who will start at quarterback? Ponder suffered a hip pointer during last week's game after taking a helmet to the hip. He was limping noticeably and missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. He returned on a limited basis Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday. The rookie first-rounder needs all the game snaps he can receive in this lost season for Minnesota. So, if he is able to play, look for Ponder to line up behind center for his seventh straight start coming off his biggest game as a pro in the loss to Denver. If Ponder isn't available, Joe Webb would start with Sage Rosenfels serving as the backup. Webb is athletic and raw but did start three games late last season, even leading Minnesota to a win at Philadelphia. Webb's ability has drawn curiosity from coaches and fans and it would be interesting to see how he's progressed as a quarterback since last season. Rosenfels was signed a week ago as the third quarterback after the team cut Donovan McNabb.2. Who will be taking handoffs from whoever starts at quarterback? Peterson has missed two games since sustaining a high ankle sprain in the first quarter in Week 11 and is listed as questionable for Sunday. The four-time Pro Bowler still leads the team with 12 total touchdowns and 872 rushing yards. Peterson returned to practice this week for the first time since getting hurt, though he was limited in his two practice and did less work Friday after testing the ankle on Thursday. Peterson wants to play and is close to the franchise's all-time rushing mark, but it might not be wise to risk the team's biggest investment until he is completely healed. Toby Gerhart has started the past two games and set a career-high with 91 rushing yards last week against Denver. Gerhart had averaged 2.6 yards per carry while replacing Peterson in the previous two games, but averaged 4.3 against the Broncos. Detroit's defense is 22nd in the league against the run and is missing defensive tackle Ndamakong Suh (suspension) and could be without defensive tackle Nick Fairley, linebacker Justin Durant and safety Louis Delmas due to injury. Whoever starts at running back for Minnesota will have a chance to produce and eat up the clock to keep the Lions' potent offense on the sideline.3. How effective will Harvin be for the starting quarterback? Harvin tore a ligament in his finger while bracing himself when falling during Wednesday's practice. He was limited on Thursday and Friday, but is listed as probable and coach Leslie Frazier said the injury doesn't appear to be hampering the team's leading receiver. Harvin has had his two biggest games of the season while Peterson's been out and will be needed to help whoever starts at quarterback. Harvin tied a career-high with eight catches and set a career-high with 156 receiving yards last week. Harvin will be available Sunday, but his effectiveness could be diminished while wearing protection on the injured finger. Devin Aromashodu, who had 15 targets and six catches last week, will start opposite Harvin and look to build on his best game in a Vikings' uniform. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe woke up Monday with a swollen hand and the team wasn't sure what caused the swelling, but he returned to practice. Rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph is also ready for an increased role. 4. Will the injured and undermanned secondary pose any problems for Detroit? With quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Calvin Johnson and the rest of the Lions' stable of receivers, Detroit ranks fifth in the league in passing offense. The Lions almost eschew the run game and choose to attack teams through the air, presenting tough matchup for Minnesota's secondary. The Vikings are 26th in the league against the pass. Frazier, a former defensive back himself, was as frontal as he's been all season after last week's game while showing his displeasure for the secondary. Frazier said the team needed to find someone in the defensive backfield to make plays, but backed away a little bit on Monday when asked if he would make changes. Frazier admitted at this point, there aren't many changes to make. Minnesota likely will get cornerback Asher Allen back from his shoulder injury. Benny Sapp will move to the nickel role. Rookie Mistral Raymond will start at safety, but recent signee Jarrad Page could see more snaps as he gets more comfortable in the system.5. How about an interception? Perhaps the best example of the secondary's struggles is the lack of turnovers. Minnesota hasn't intercepted a pass in its last seven games. In week five's win against Arizona, safety Jamarca Sanford had two interceptions and Asher Allen had one, accounting for three of the Vikings' six interceptions this season. One of the six interceptions was be defensive end Jared Allen. Safety Husain Abdullah and cornerback Antoine Winfield both on season-ending injured reserve each have one. Cornerback Cedric Griffin has started every game this season, but hasn't had an interception. Stafford has thrown 14 interceptions this season, tied for the fourth most in the NFL. He has thrown 10 interceptions in the past four games.
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