In a game that felt more “playoff” than “regular season,” the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers battered and bruised one another. Despite winning 17-14 and moving to 2-0, the Vikings suffered a major loss at the top of the depth chart.
Head coach Mike Zimmer confirmed Adrian Peterson, who left the game in the third quarter, suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee. KFAN’s Justin Gaard was the first to break the story, which was quickly retweeted by the team’s official account.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 19, 2016
At a Monday press conference, Zimmer told reporters the team is still “going through the evaluation process” and a “procedure” will be considered for the injury. Depending on he severity of the tear, Peterson could miss anywhere from two weeks to three months, though Zimmer didn’t rule out Peterson playing against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The raucous crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium fell silent when Peterson hobbled off the field in the third quarter. Zimmer noted that Peterson’s “heel kind of got planted” and then a Packers defender hit him from the side. Minnesota’s veteran running back was carried to the locker room in the middle of the game and reappeared with crutches following the win.
With Peterson out, the Vikings will need to rely on Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata moving forward. The thunder-and-lightning duo combined for 1,108 rushing yards in 2014, giving Minnesota the 11th-best rushing attack that season. Citing their previous success in place of Peterson, Zimmer said he has “a lot of confidence” in McKinnon and Asiata.
Given the Vikings’ struggles running the ball this year — 95 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry — the loss of Peterson isn’t a major blow (yet). He’s been an ineffective running back to this point of the season, though much of the blame falls on a porous offensive line that’s failed to open running lanes.
Still, McKinnon and Asiata have a chance to split reps, give the Vikings a different dynamic on offense, and create passing opportunities out of the backfield. They may struggle until the offensive line improves, but the combo’s proven production means the sky isn’t completely falling in Minnesota.