Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who had this memorable touchdown against the Cardinals last year, won't play Sunday.
After reviewing game tape from last December's trip to Arizona, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer noticed some subtle differences within the Cardinals' offensive scheme. But for the most part, "they have a lot of the same guys."
The opposite is true for the Vikings on offense.
In the Cardinals' 23-20 win a season ago, Teddy Bridgewater was the Vikings' quarterback, Adrian Peterson the running back and Norv Turner the offensive coordinator. As Sunday's game approaches, the Cardinals are reviewing the tendencies of quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Jerick McKinnon and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
"Everyone's mixed around," defensive tackle Frostee Rucker said. "We really don't know what to expect. We just know they'll play us as hard, and they may have some trick plays for us to get stuff going. We've just got to be disciplined, read our keys and bring the fight to them."
The Vikings' offense has been rocked by injuries this season, chiefly among them the season-ending knee injury to Bridgewater in the preseason and a torn meniscus which sent to Peterson to injured reserve after Week 2. The offensive line has also been hit hard, and Minnesota is trying to piece it together to avoid losing a fifth straight game.
Turner resigned two weeks ago, and Shurmur is now in charge of lifting a unit which has been among the NFL's worst this year. The Vikings are last in total offense, averaging 302.3 yards per game, and 26th in points per game with 19.4.
The running game has been nonexistent without Peterson, as the Vikings are averaging a paltry 2.7 yards per carry, last in the NFL. Bradford has been solid when getting rid of the ball – his quarterback rating of 99.9 is on pace to set a career high – but has been sacked 24 times.
He does have some speedy options on the perimeter in wideouts Stefon Diggs and Cordarrelle Patterson, while Kyle Rudolph is an upper-tier tight end.
"They've got pieces, man," linebacker Markus Golden said. "Just because they don't have Adrian Peterson, they've still got a bunch of good players on their team that can make some plays and help their team win. We've got to go into it like a real game and get out there and compete."
FLOYD AIMS FOR HOMETOWN ENCORE
Wide receiver Michael Floyd grew up in St. Paul and said he's looking forward to playing in front of family and friends who don't often get to watch him live.
He had his best game of the season last week against the 49ers, hauling in six catches for 101 yards. Floyd has mostly struggled this year, which led to questions about impending free agency possibly affecting his psyche. Floyd was asked this week if playing in his hometown could be another reason to press.
"I don't think so," Floyd said. "I'm not too crazy about that. I think the plays will come on their own. They will be made and I think everyone will be happy."
DEONE BUCANNON DOESN'T PRACTICE AGAIN
Money linebacker Deone Bucannon missed a second consecutive day of practice with an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Corey Peters (foot) also didn't practice again, while cornerback Tharold Simon (ankle) sat after participating in a limited capacity Wednesday.
Fitzgerald (knee/full) practiced in full, but was wearing a knee brace during the portion open to the media. Quarterback Carson Palmer returned after a veteran's day off. Safety Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder), linebacker Gabe Martin (hamstring/knee) and linebacker Alex Okafor (knee/calf) were limited.
For the Vikings, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) didn't practice. Linebacker Eric Kendricks (hip), cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (ankle), cornerback Terence Newman (illness), guard Zac Kerin (hand) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (concussion) were limited.
FITZGERALD JOINS MEDIA RANKS
Wideout Larry Fitzgerald stopped by offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin's media session on Thursday afternoon to ask a pointed question.
Fitzgerald wanted to know why Goodwin wouldn't accept a bet on the Ohio State-Michigan football game set for Nov. 26. Goodwin, a Michigan product, smiled before offering his rationale.
"First off, Michigan lost its starting quarterback (Wilton Speight)," Goodwin said. "You've got to be smart when you're making business decisions, and I'm making a smart business decision."
Images of past games between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings