EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson will see more preseason action than he did before winning last year’s NFL MVP.
Peterson, who missed all of the preseason last year while he was coming back from major knee surgery, will play in the Minnesota Vikings’ game at San Francisco next Sunday night, the ever-important third preseason game. Peterson has practiced with the team, but has been held out of the first two preseason games for Minnesota.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he would like to get Peterson a little bit of game action before Minnesota opens the regular season and had been weighing the options and the risk-reward of using the league’s MVP.
Returning to practice after Friday’s 20-16 loss at Buffalo, Frazier finally revealed Peterson would see action in next week’s game.
“We have some set things in place that we want to see with him in the lineup,” Frazier said. “Not ready to divulge what those are right now. But we do have a plan for Adrian on Sunday night.”
While the rest of the starters likely will play into the second half, Frazier said Peterson won’t play in the third quarter Sunday.
Without Peterson, the offense has looked disjointed in two preseason games, with Minnesota focused on establishing its passing game. Knowing what he has with the strong running game and Peterson, Frazier has used the preseason to try and get quarterback Christian Ponder on the same page with the team’s receivers, particularly new No. 1 Greg Jennings.
When the regular season hits and Peterson is in the lineup, the Vikings will return to their normal distribution and a hopefully balanced attack.
“As anyone that follows us knows, our offense is going to be run through No. 28, through Adrian,” Frazier said. “So, yeah we want to be balanced for sure, and we’re doing everything we can to help our passing game to improve. But part of what will help our passing game be improved is having Adrian at full strength and having another super year like he’s had. We want to be balanced, but we’ll see how things go.”
The first-team offense only played two snaps in the preseason opener, both passes, after an early interception. On Friday, the first-team offense produced only 82 yards in five series and had only one series last longer than four plays.
Minnesota also was thrown off by a blitz-heavy package used by the Bills, an unusually complex defense for a second preseason game. Opponents would have to account for Peterson if he was in the backfield, which affects the defenses the Vikings see as well as the offensive scheme.
“Without Adrian Peterson in our scheme, it impacts our offense tremendously because he’s the focal point,” Frazier said. “That will be obvious when we open up the season. It’s obvious if you look at us from a season ago and it showed on Friday night. But the emphasis for us on Friday night, we didn’t come into that ballgame saying we wanted to show Buffalo, anyone that we could be a dominant run team. We wanted to be able to do some things in the passing game … Our identity has not changed.”