Laughing matter: Vikings' Peterson cracks jokes about back injury

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said Thursday that his back injury is "not a big deal at all," meaning he should play against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend.

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"The biggest question about Brett Favre coming into the season was whether he'd be willing to manage the game utilizing the strengths of the Vikings' defense and the running ability of AP. I think Favre has done just that."

Peterson has been limited in practice the last two days because of the injury. He ran for 92 yards and one touchdown last weekend against the Detroit Lions and leads the NFL in rushing heading into the Vikings' Sunday home opener against the 49ers.

"God willing, I will be out there playing," Peterson said. "Not a big deal at all."

Even with Brett Favre at quarterback, Peterson is the key to the Vikings' offense. He draws so much attention from opposing defenses who stack eight or nine men near the line of scrimmage that he opens up things for the passing game. The reigning NFL rushing champion has run for 272 yards through two weeks and already has scored four touchdowns.

Peterson started his Thursday news conference with a joke, which should put Vikings fans at ease.

"Right now, I've probably got a weak back," Peterson said.

When did that happen, Adrian?

"It happened, like, a week back," he deadpanned. "But that's all behind me now."

"I'm comfortable with where he's at," Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "I know he's been working hard to rehab. ... Right now, I think he's going to be OK, but we have to continue to go throughout the week with that."

Starting middle linebacker E.J. Henderson returned to practice after missing Wednesday with a shoulder injury. The Vikings' leading tackler practiced on a limited basis with pads on, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said he believes Henderson will be fine.

Rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has scored a touchdown in each of his first two games and is the Vikings' primary kick returner, missed practice because of an illness.

Safety Madieu Williams again was limited with a shoulder injury, and backup linebacker and special teamer Erin Henderson missed another practice because of a calf injury.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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