The Minnesota Vikings' sputtering offense could be without its biggest star against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher and the 2007 Offensive Rookie of the Year, missed practice yesterday with a hamstring injury. Peterson said he is hopeful he can play against the Panthers, but he took a step back one day after participating in practice on a limited basis.
"It's a concern," coach Brad Childress said. "Your legs are your legs. We'll just see how he comes out by the time we get to Sunday."
Before practice began, Peterson told reporters that he injured the hamstring late in last weekend's 18-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Peterson rushed for 160 yards in the game and has 263 yards on the season, 1 yard ahead of the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner for the league lead.
Peterson did not specify which leg was injured, only saying that it was "pretty sore" and had him worried when it tightened up while he was pushing the pile in the fourth quarter.
If Peterson cannot play Sunday, backup Chester Taylor will get the bulk of the carries. Taylor was the starting running back in Minnesota in 2006, when he rushed for 1,216 yards and six touchdowns.
Broncos: : Prosecutors in Georgia have filed two counts of simple battery against wide receiver Brandon Marshall stemming from a 6-month-old domestic violence complaint. The charges were filed Sept. 10 in Fulton County State Court. Police allege Marshall threw his ex-girlfriend on a bed, slapped her and damaged an Atlanta apartment on March 4. Marshall said yesterday he had been waiting for charges to be filed, but it wasn't clear why they came so long after the complaint. Attorney Harvey Steinberg was in court and didn't immediately return a message. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan declined to comment. Marshall was arrested March 6 on a domestic violence warrant requested by the former girlfriend. He was released the next day after posting $1,000 bond. It was his third arrest in about a year. The arrests caught the attention of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who met with Marshall in August and then suspended him for three games. That was later reduced to one game, the Broncos' season opener at Oakland.
Bears: : Devin Hester's status remained a mystery and so did the extent of his rib injury. After telling a few reporters earlier yesterday he had torn cartilage, the record-setting return specialist backtracked and said his ribs are simply bruised. Either way, he hopes to play against Tampa Bay on Sunday. He remains a game-time decision after missing his second straight practice, but he seemed relieved that tests earlier in the week did not reveal a more serious problem. Last season, he broke his own NFL record by running back four punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. The third-year pro is fourth on the NFL's career list with 11 kick return scores and needs just two to tie Brian Mitchell's mark.
Browns: : The Elias Sports Bureau took away a Cleveland sack and gave Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a pass reception from Pittsburgh's 10-6 win Sunday night. ... Starting left guard Eric Steinbach (shoulder) did not practice for the second straight day and could be a game-time decision for Sunday's game at the Ravens.
Goodell: : The commissioner has followed up his suspension of a Tampa Bay cornerback by re-emphasizing safety issues and warning that even first-time offenders will be subject to discipline. He sent a memo Wednesday night, a day after the league announced the one-game suspension of Tampa Bay cornerback Elbert Mack for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan last week. Mack, an undrafted rookie from Troy, had been fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness against Houston quarterback Alex Brink during the Bucs' exhibition finale Aug. 28. "From this point forward, you should be clear on the following point: Any conduct that unnecessarily risks the safety of other players has no role in the game of football and will be disciplined at increased levels, including on a first offense," Goodell wrote in a memo obtained by the Associated Press. Goodell ordered that the memo be read and distributed to all players on all 32 teams.
Hochuli: : The fallout continues over referee Ed Hochuli's game-deciding mistake in Denver on Sunday. Mike Pereira, the NFL's supervisor of officials, said on his NFL Network show Wednesday night that he's talked several times to Hochuli and the referee remains devastated. And the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Hochuli, an official for 19 seasons and a referee for 17, had e-mailed fans in San Diego and told them, "I failed miserably." According to the Union-Tribune, Hochuli wrote to several San Diego fans: "Officials strive for perfection - I failed miserably." Hochuli did not return repeated calls and e-mails from the AP.
Steelers: : One of the five Rooney brothers who owns a 16 percent stake in the Steelers expects them to decide soon on a deal to sell the team. ... Linebacker James Farrior was fined $7,500 by the NFL for making an obscene gesture toward Browns fans on Sunday night. Farrior made the gesture during the third quarter, saying afterward he was upset because fans were celebrating a minor injury to safety Ryan Clark. Farrior also drew a taunting penalty.