MANKATO, Minn. — Adrian Peterson has proven he doesn’t need much of a dry run to be ready for the NFL season and he likely won’t get much of one this season as he adapts to a new offense with coordinator Norv Turner.
Peterson, who missed the preseason in 2012 following reconstructive knee surgery, went on to win the MVP award that season and rush for the second-most yards in a single season in NFL history. Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Peterson likely won’t play much in this preseason, either.
Zimmer will take it easy with his star running back, even holding him out on Monday evening as Minnesota practices live goal-line situations.
"He won’t get many (snaps) in the preseason," Zimmer said. "He won’t get any in the goal-line tonight. I don’t need to see him."
Peterson is coming off surgery in the offseason for the third straight year but has been a near full participant in the Vikings offseason program and has shown no ill effects from his groin operation. Peterson was limited last season by foot and groin injuries and only played 14 games. He finished fifth in the league with 1,266 rushing yards.
With Turner replacing Bill Musgrave as the Vikings offensive coordinator, Peterson is learning a new offense with new responsibilities, which will also see him take on more of a role in the passing game.
Turner has worked with several league-leading backs in the past, and Peterson will again be a vital part of Minnesota’s offense.
"This is what I’ve been looking for, for the past seven years," Peterson said of the new offense. "I feel we have an offense that fits our talent that we have, an offense that fits the players at their position. I’m pretty excited about what Norv Turner has been putting in for us, and presenting a lot of guys with opportunities to make plays and be more versatile. I’m pretty excited about that."
As for catching more passes after slipping to just 29 receptions last season, Peterson said: "I don’t want to make it seem like I’m Michael Irvin or Jerry Rice, but I’ve been playing this game since I was seven. I can catch the football."
Peterson has been excited about the potential in working with Turner. He likened learning the new system to doing surgery earlier in the offseason but said the understanding is starting to come "full circle."
Long the focal point of Minnesota’s offense under previous coaches, Peterson acknowledged there was some predictability in the Vikings’ system in the past. With Turner, Peterson said any predictability is gone.
"Not taking anything away from the coaches we had before, but being more versatile in the offense," Peterson said. "Let’s call it what it is: I thought in the past, we’ve been predictable. I’m sure you guys wrote stories about us being predictable the past seven years. You won’t be able to write that story this year. That’s pretty much all I’m saying: You won’t be able to do that, because this offense is so versatile."
Now 29, Peterson has looked strong in training camp and has impressed Zimmer, who’s seen plenty of the six-time Pro Bowl running back over the years.
"He’s been good in everything," Zimmer said. "I told somebody yesterday, ‘This guy’s not 30 years old, there’s no way.’ Because he made some great cuts and some outstanding runs that impressed me, and I’ve watched him on tape for many, many years. They impressed me even more."
Setting the Barr: When Minnesota drafted UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr with the ninth-overall pick in the draft, expectations naturally came along with the lofty selection.
Barr’s pass-rushing talents will certainly be used in Zimmer’s defense. The the coaching staff plans to get a lot out of Barr in his first season.
"My expectations of him are probably higher than for everybody else," Zimmer said Monday. "I’ve seen great things out of him, he doesn’t make mistakes. There was a play yesterday, got a lead block out of him, knocked the living dog out of the guy that came to block him, got off and made the play. He has tremendous, tremendous physical abilities. My expectations for all the players are very high — hopefully not higher than theirs, but high."
Blanton taking the lead: With a starting safety spot open next to budding star Harrison Smith, third-year defensive back Robert Blanton has taken much of the first-team reps throughout the offseason.
The Vikings return Jamarca Sanford, who’s started much of the past two seasons next to Smith, but Blanton has an early edge as the coaches look for a player with coverage ability, the aptitude for reading plays and also good tackling skills.
Blanton, a former college cornerback who played some slot cornerback last year, could wind up next to Smith, his college teammate at Notre Dame.
"Right now I would say Blanton is probably a little bit ahead of the rest of the guys," Zimmer said. "But that will be a lot more determined when we get into the camp and a preseason game, tackling, how things go. He’s been doing a lot of good things as far lining up, covering people, being in the right place. With the safeties, until you find out how they tackle, what kind of angles they take, what kind of instincts they have in the course of ballgames, I really don’t know."
Captain and Cordarrelle: Zimmer said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, on the physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury, and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson could return to practice in the next few days.
Patterson has been day to day with a foot injury. He participated a bit in the walk-through on Sunday and is expected to advance his work to individual drills during Monday’s evening practice.
Zimmer said Munnerlyn could return on Wednesday. The Vikings have an off-day on Tuesday.
"I think it will be real close when we get back," Zimmer said. "They’re going to work him out again tomorrow. I think he’s real close. It won’t be long."