Will Patrick Peterson return for the Vikings against the Packers?

Patrick Peterson #7 of the Minnesota Vikings stands on the sideline in the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 3, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ((Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings host their biggest NFC North rival on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers, and there’s hope that one of their top defensive players will be back on the field.

Defensive back Patrick Peterson is eligible, if cleared by the team’s training staff, to come off injured reserve this week. Peterson suffered a right hamstring injury defending DJ Moore on a deep pass in the team’s Week 6 overtime victory at Carolina.

Originally thought to be cramps, Peterson was placed on IR during the bye week. On Tuesday, Peterson said on his "All Things Covered" podcast with Bryant McFadden that he expects to be back on the field against the Packers.

"I’m feeling good, feeling great. Rehab has been going great, awesome. Been doing everything that the team doctors have been telling me," Peterson said. "Still got this week of preparation, got to get cleared to come out and practice this Wednesday and go forward from there."

Peterson also posted to social media on Tuesday a hype video of him in a Vikings jersey, pads and helmet, signaling he thinks he’ll be back this week.

The first key sign will be Wednesday, when the team holds its first practice in preparing for the Packers. If Peterson is out on the field, that’s an encouraging sign that he’ll play. Peterson said on his podcast he is running without issue, and is up to between 17-18 miles per hour. He said he’s been clocked as high as 21 miles per hour, but that was two years ago.

"I haven’t really kicked it in full gear just yet, but I did get it good enough to where I had no complaints," Peterson said. "That’s good speed, trying to figure out how the hamstring is going to hold up. Everything has been going great in rehab, extremely pleased with where I’m at right now. Hopefully everything continues to go great and we’ll see what happens."

Without Peterson, the Vikings’ secondary has had ups and downs in the last three games. Cooper Rush passed for 32 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start. Lamar Jackson threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 120 yards two weeks ago. This past Sunday, Justin Herbert tied a season-low with 195 yards, had one touchdown and one interception.

General Manager Rick Spielman said during the bye week he expected Peterson to return for the Green Bay game. But he also said he expected Michael Pierce back against the Cowboys, and Pierce is now on IR with a bad elbow and out until at least early December.

One thing Peterson said on his podcast is if he does return against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, he doesn’t want to be on a pitch count.

"None of that has been discussed with me but I’m the type of guy that once I’m out there, I’m out there. I’m going to have to get pulled off unless I can’t go any more. I expect if I am fortunate enough to play Sunday, I’m going to be out there," Peterson said.

The Vikings also hope to get back safety Harrison Smith from COVID-19 protocols, and Anthony Barr from a lingering knee issue.