Peterson was hurt last week at Baltimore, and he expressed his usual determination about being able to play. He returned to practice Friday, and the Vikings were optimistic about his quick recovery. But because they're out of playoff contention, they decided not to risk the health of the 2012 NFL MVP.
"I was anxious to play," Peterson said while standing in the press box before the game. "It was out of my hands."
With Gerhart out, that left Matt Asiata, who had three career regular-season carries coming into the game, as the featured back. Joe Banyard was signed to the active roster from the practice squad for depth, and fullback Jerome Felton was expected to get the ball, too.
That's not the only position where the Vikings are depleted. Their top three cornerbacks were all out: Chris Cook (knee), Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and Josh Robinson (sternum). Robinson was placed on injured reserve, ending his season early. Shaun Prater and Marcus Sherels were the starters, and safety Robert Blanton was in line to play the slot spot in the nickel defence. Cornerback Robert Steeples was also signed from the practice squad.
Safety Harrison Smith was activated from injured reserve, for his first appearance in two months. He was expected to back up Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo. Two other starters were inactive for the Vikings as well: tight end John Carlson (concussion) and right guard Brandon Fusco (knee). Rhett Ellison and Joe Berger started in their places. Third-string quarterback Josh Freeman was inactive, too.
For the Eagles, linebacker Najee Goode (hamstring) and safety Earl Wolff (knee) were inactive. So were fellow backups quarterback Matt Barkley, cornerback Curtis Marsh, running back Matthew Tucker and offensive tackles Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org