From Comcast SportsNetEDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- One year ago, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier approached the postgame news conference and was ready to bask in the glory of a pre-Christmas victory that snapped a six-game losing streak, even though star running back Adrian Peterson's career was in doubt following a major knee injury.That was then.Now, Peterson leads the NFL with 1,898 yards rushing and is only 207 yards away from Eric Dickerson's single-season record, and is dealing with an abdominal injury. And he says he'll be ready to help Minnesota (9-6) in its bid to earn a playoff spot with a victory over the Green Bay Packers (11-4) on Sunday."To go through all those tough times the last couple years to get back to where we were in 09, to a point be in the playoff hunt and be on the doorstep now; I think the best part for us is, if you really want to prove it, you win this game, you're in," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "This is everything. All the chips are in now. We wanted this. We asked for it. Let's go. Let's not be scared of it, because there's nothing to lose at this point."With Peterson leading the way and trying to become the seventh player in league history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season -- he needs 102 to join the club -- Minnesota has made an unlikely late-season run to control its playoff destiny. The Vikings would clinch a postseason berth with a win over the NFC North champion Packers on Sunday. A loss by Minnesota opens several scenarios, which includes needing losses by the Chicago Bears (9-6), New York Giants (8-7) and Dallas Cowboys (8-7).Peterson sat out the final minutes of Sunday's 23-6 win at Houston, with coach Leslie Frazier calling it a precautionary measure. He finished with 86 yards against the Texans, ending his streak of eight 100-yard games."Adrian is a little bit sore with his abdominal muscle," Frazier said. "We'll have to see how he does this week, how much work that we'll give him as we get ready for this ball game, which will be a huge ball game for our team."The Vikings are also expected to have 14-year veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield available. He suffered a "small" fracture in his hand Sunday. He played through the injury, and would wear a soft cast if he goes against the Packers.
BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.
But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.
Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.
- Youkilis says Red Sox need manager that can 'handle the media, first and foremost'
- New manager will shape Sox' -- and Dombrowski's -- future
- Looking at potential candidates for Red Sox manager
The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.
"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.
"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."
Cora joined the Astros before this season.
Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers.
Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.
Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.
What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.
"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."
The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.
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CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.
That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).
Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.
- Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'
- New-look Celtics know they have still have to 'bring their game'
- Tatum may find himself in Celtics' starting lineup on Opening Night
While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.
Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.
And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.
Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.
More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.
As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.
“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”