MINNEAPOLIS — Welcome to middle America, where the contrasting emotions of how Minnesota Vikings’ fans feel about suspended running back Adrian Peterson continue.
Outside of the University of Minnesota’s football stadium, where the Vikings are playing during new stadium construction, I saw several fans wearing No. 28 Peterson jerseys despite the fact he has been indicted in Texas on child abuse charges. But in the team’s official stadium pro shop, the player’s jersey is not available for sale. (See photos.)
Meanwhile, a Minneapolis Star-Tribune poll has ignited larger debates on: 1) whether parents are justified in hitting their children and, 2) what constitutes child abuse. Peterson admits he hit his son with a “switch.” According to the poll of 500 Minnesotans: 57 percent described Peterson’s actions as abusive; 59 percent said their own parents used corporal punishment; 33 percent said parents have a right to use physical punishment to discipline
Peterson is on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list, which effectively equates to an indefinite suspension with pay.
This much we can all agree on: The Vikings aren’t nearly the same team without Peterson. Minnesota won its season opener against St. Louis with him in the lineup but lost the last two without him, scoring only one touchdown and 16 points in losses to New England (30-7) and New Orleans (20-9).
The Falcons’ defense should be in a strong position today. Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be making his first NFL start after replacing the injured Matt Cassel last week.
After going sack-less in the first two games, the defense recorded three sacks, seven hits and 12 hurries last Thursday night against Tampa Bay. But that Buccaneers’ team is one of the worst I’ve ever seen and that game was at home.
On that subject: The Falcons’ offense has scored 93 points in two home games (both wins) but managed only 10 (with one meaningless late touchdown) at Cincinnati. I wrote then and I’ll reiterate now: A strength of a team ultimately is defined by how it fares in late-season games and its level of resiliency on the road. The Falcons were dreadful in that 24-10 loss to the Bengals. They were physically beat up on both lines. That needs to change today.
I’ll be here live blogging all game, or at least until I need to start working on my column and short takes. So if you have any questions, throw them at me.
Falcons’ inactives today: The only significant missing player is wide receiver Harry Douglas, who has a foot injury. Also out: quarterback Sean Renfree (third quarterback), tackle Ryan Schaeder, center James Stone, defensive tackle Cliff Matthews, defensive end Tyler Starr and cornerback Javier Arenas.
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