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Eric Peterson, Published September 17 2013

VIDEO: Vikings' Gerhart supports Packers for a change during West Fargo stop

WEST FARGO – Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart spent time with Packers on Tuesday afternoon.

“When I was pulling up in the car I was like, ‘The Packers?’ ” Gerhart joked. “I’ve got to walk in and talk with a school where the mascot is the Packers? … I made a little joke about it and it’s been a good time.”

Gerhart spoke to students at West Fargo High School, which shares the same nickname as the Vikings’ top rival, Green Bay.

“I did not expect the warm welcome and reception I got here and how many Vikings fans are out here,” Gerhart said. “It’s been awesome.”

West Fargo High School won the visit from Gerhart, who was promoting the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program that was created by the Midwest Dairy Council and the NFL.

Gerhart talked with the students about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, with obesity becoming a growing issue among kids and adults. He stressed the importance of breakfast, incorporating dairy in their diets and being active 60 minutes per day.

“I’m a firm believer in breakfast,” Gerhart said. “I grew up having to drink a glass of milk with every dinner.”

The Vikings aren’t off to a healthy start to this NFL season after a 31-30 loss at Chicago on Sunday. The Bears scored the winning touchdown in the closing seconds. Minnesota is off to a 0-2 start, both road losses to North Division rivals.

“We like to think we should have won that game last weekend, but we’ve got to put that behind us,” Gerhart said. “I think we can get it back on track. You don’t want to start the season 0-2, but there’s no panic.”

The Vikings have their home opener at noon Sunday at the Metrodome where they will host the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s early in the season. We haven’t played a home game yet,” Gerhart said. “We’ve got a chance this weekend to get on the right path and get a win and carry that on. We’re close.”

Gerhart has had limited touches this season, playing behind last year’s league MVP Adrian Peterson. Through two games, Gerhart has 5 yards rushing on one attempt and 3 yards receiving on one catch.

“My opportunities are limited with a guy like Adrian playing in front of me, so whenever I’m out there, I’ve got to make the most of it,” Gerhart said. “It’s a team game. I have my role. I’ve got to carry out my role.”

Gerhart added the team is behind starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who has had an up-and-down first couple weeks.

Ponder has completed 34 of 58 passes for 463 yards and two touchdowns. He has also thrown four interceptions.

“He has definitely grown as a leader,” Gerhart said of Ponder. “He’s stepped up as a true leader. He’s been vocal leading the huddle, leading the offense. … His play has been getting better and better and the future is bright for him.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com