EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota's sputtering offense could be without its biggest star against Carolina on Sunday.
Running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher and the 2007 offensive rookie of the year, missed practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury. Peterson said he is hopeful he can play against the Panthers, but it was 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 this season, a yard ahead of Atlanta's Michael Turner for the league lead.
But the offense failed to score a touchdown in that game, settling for five field goals by Ryan Longwell to fall to 0-2.
"It was tough. What upset me the most is we just couldn't get into the end zone as a group," Peterson said. "The whole game I'm sitting there saying, it could come back and bite us. Peyton Manning on the other side of the ball can get hot any time. That's what happened. I was really upset."
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.
"This is how we get our work done. Our legs," Peterson said. "That's the most important part of our body, so it was pretty scary."
It was so bad during the game that when Childress asked Peterson if he could return a kick to try and give the team better field position, he had to decline.
"I wasn't able to go out and give it 100 percent," he said.
If he cannot play on 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.
Taylor was demoted to backup early in Peterson's rookie year last season, but filled in brilliantly when Peterson went down with a knee injury at Green Bay.
The next week, Taylor rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over Oakland, then added 77 yards and a score in a win over the Giants. He finished the season with 844 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games.
"The receiving corps happens to be the one that's getting hit with the injuries right now," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Is it a concern? Yeah, it's a concern.
"We'll have to wait this whole week out to see how healthy those guys can get and where they're going to be, if they're 100 percent speed or 90 percent. We'll go to battle with what we have."