The Vikings deactivated star running back Adrian Peterson for tonight's game against the Chicago Bears, but they received a strong substitute effort from backup running back Toby Gerhart. AP suffered a combination of knee, ankle and thigh injuries last week and wasn't comfortable playing on the frozen field of the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. In his place, the Vikings went with former Stanford star Toby Gerhart.
While Gerhart had replaced Peterson on one occasion earlier in the season, his carries had otherwise been limited. While he won't be replacing AP long term anytime soon, Gerhart showed what he's capable of in the Vikings 40-14 loss to the Bears. Gerhart rushed for 77 yards on 16 carries and caught three passes for 18 yards. Although the Vikings were blown out, most of Gerhart's yards came while the game was still close, and thus weren't the normal garbage time stats we often see in blowouts. He did fumble the ball once on a short pass from Joe Webb, but other than that he had a strong performance.
It remains to be seen whether Gerhart will see extended action the rest of the season. Adrian Peterson thought he might be able to go but decided it was a no-go after testing himself on the field before the game. The Vikings close out the 2010 season at Philadelphia and Detroit but are eliminated from playoff contention at this point. Peterson has already surpassed 1,000 yards so one has to wonder if the Vikings might just shut him down for the rest of the season.
If the Vikings were to shut down AP, that would give Gerhart a prime opportunity to showcase his skills. Peterson isn't going anywhere, but a strong close to the season by Gerhart could get him some additional touches in 2011. I wouldn't imagine the Vikings will be going to a platoon anytime soon, but the more solid running backs a team has the better. At the very least they've got that much more trade bait.