EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson has the NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards under his belt, could he be angling for the Defensive Player of the Year award too?
Peterson proved to be nearly unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball on his way to winning the NFL MVP last season and he’s set his goals even higher this season as he tries to break the single-season rushing record.
Peterson, preparing for his first preseason game action upcoming Sunday, had a little fun in Monday’s practice … by going through some defensive drills.
Asked afterward about participating with Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and the other defensive lineman, Peterson joked: “I can definitely see myself coming off the edge. I don’t know if there are too many tackles that can put their hands on me.”
Does Peterson think Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier would ever give him the chance?
“He would probably start laughing, just like I did,” Peterson said.
In fun, Peterson lined up with the defensive line and practiced getting off at the snap of the ball during drills while special teams was the focus on the main field. Leave it to Peterson to never stop working.
“I looked over here to the right and I looked over here to the left and I see special teams going and I seen myself right here enjoying my free time for 20 minutes,” Peterson said. “So I said, ‘You know what? Let me get active. Let me go over there and line up with the D-ends and the linebackers and D-tackles.’ It was fun.”
All fun aside, Peterson is busy getting himself ready for the regular season and his goal of rushing for 2,500 yards, which would shatter the league’s single-season rushing record. Peterson fell just eight yards short of Eric Dickerson’s record last year when he returned from reconstructive knee surgery to run for 2,097 yards and win the league’s MVP award.
Peterson will play in the preseason for the first time since 2011 on Sunday night when the Vikings travel to San Francisco and said, optimally, he would play about a half in the game. Peterson, who was held out the entire preseason schedule last year while he was coming back from knee surgery, has been trying to persuade Frazier to let him play.
“Yeah, I’ve been in Coach Frazier’s ear trying to get in the first two games as well,” Peterson said. “I’ve been here seven years. I know how it goes. I try not to harp on him too much because I know he’s got a lot going on and I know the decision that he makes, it’s going to be for the better of the team. I know that seven years in. I doesn’t stop me completely from going to him and saying, ‘Hey, coach, I want to get in. I want to get a couple snaps.’ So I think I convinced him this week.”
Peterson, who had hernia surgery early in the offseason, has practiced fully since the start of training camp, but has been held out of the first two preseason games. Without its MVP, Minnesota’s offense has looked disjointed, particularly last week against Buffalo’s unexpectedly blitz-heavy defense.
Knowing what it has with Peterson, the Vikings have focused on their passing game through the first two weeks of the preseason. But Minnesota is ready to have Peterson in the backfield.
“I think it’s also for Adrian, personally, so he can exercise some of his preseason butterflies,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “He’s been working very hard in practice and it will help that he gets out there, gets a feel for the speed of the game before he goes into Detroit (for the regular-season opener).”
Peterson said he starts “itching for it” watching his teammates, especially in the second preseason game on Friday. He wasn’t sure how much he will play on Sunday and said he’s not looking to get a certain amount of carries.
“I just want to get in and play a little bit and just knock the rust off a little bit,” Peterson said.