By Dave Campbell
AP Pro Football Writer
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Adrian Peterson’s status for the last game of the season is uncertain.
“Stay tuned,” the Minnesota running back said.
Even if he doesn’t play on Sunday against Detroit, Peterson will have plenty more games in purple, his health allowing. Peterson has a lot of prominent teammates who don’t, however, such a future. Defensive end Jared Allen leads the list.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about it, but it’s not what’s on my mind right now,” Allen said on Thursday. “I’ve got to prepare for this game. I’m trying to go out the way I want in this Metrodome and have this last game be something special.”
Neither the Vikings nor the Lions can qualify for the playoffs, of course, so pride, nostalgia and camaraderie are the priorities for Sunday. Allen, who has 83½ sacks since he arrived in Minnesota in 2008, tied for the most in the NFL over that span, has an expiring contract. He can still reach a double-digit total for the seventh straight year with half a sack or more against the Lions, but at age 31 he’s not likely to fit in the team’s plans for next season.
“I’m not naïve to the point that I don’t understand the business side of this or understand the trends that have happened in the past,” Allen said. “Some things are out of your control, and this one is out of your control. We’re moving forward. And when the smoke settles, everybody will be where they’re supposed to be, whether it’s here or whether it’s not. That will be decided at that time, but right now I’m having fun getting a chance to put this uniform on one more time.”
The sentiment for Allen will be especially high considering the probability he’ll be playing next to defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who has become a close friend, for the final time. Williams is the longest-tenured player on the team, and the 33-year-old will also be a free agent in the spring.
They’ve been one of the top end-tackle tandems in the league.
“I don’t know that there’s going to be many better. There might be some that are the same,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
Allen and Williams have talked often this week about the way they’d like to finish the season, the stadium and, likely, their careers together.
“I don’t want anybody crying around him on Friday and Saturday,” Allen said. “But we’ll enjoy it when the time is right. After the game, that’s the time to get sentimental.”
Other veterans who could be with the Vikings for the last time on Sunday: left guard Charlie Johnson, running back Toby Gerhart, tight end John Carlson and defensive tackle Fred Evans.
The end of the season always brings turnover in the NFL, but after a bad year there’s often more.
Peterson is aiming to play, regardless of the relevance of this game. He was held out two weeks ago with a sprained right foot and said he “felt uncomfortable” playing on it last week. Peterson has also been hampered by a groin injury. He took part in practice on Thursday, which coach Leslie Frazier said was encouraging to him. But Peterson sounded more pessimistic than usual about his status.
“I’m feeling OK. I’ve felt better. My body has been able to rest a little bit. I’m trying to push to Sunday,” he said.