Adrian Peterson trying to shake recent struggles
Adrian Peterson’s remarkable ability and accomplishments prompt
steady expectations of highlight-reel touchdown runs and 150-yard
Given those high standards, Peterson’s season has so far been
slightly disappointing – despite 12 touchdowns and 1,103 yards
rushing that ranks third in the league. With Minnesota (10-2)
winning as the NFL’s second-highest scoring team, perhaps that
doesn’t matter much.
When the Vikings lose and Peterson nets a season-low 19 yards on
13 carries, though, there is reason to look closer.
“It was one of those nights,” he said, reflecting on last
week’s 30-17 defeat at Arizona. “There was a lot of stuff that
wasn’t going right.”
Peterson has only three 100-yard games this year, and his
average of 4.5 yards per attempt is the lowest of his three NFL
seasons. Opponents have been determined to stop him, even with
Brett Favre carving up the field for a revitalized passing attack.
Still, there are times when Peterson might contribute to stopping
Fumbling has been one problem of his otherwise-brilliant career,
and being too conscious of hanging onto the ball could keep a back
from running at full speed.
“It can, if you’re worried about it,” he said. “If you’re out
there and it’s running through your mind, it could affect the way
you run. I don’t try to focus on that.”
His determination to run as hard and far as possible can also
cost him. Sometimes, when space is limited, a cutback for more room
can lead to lost yardage.
Peterson frequently mentions a “famine-famine-feast” approach
to finding the hole, but sometimes he must settle for the
“I’m not saying because he’s trying to break every run that
he’s not doing the job that he’s supposed to do,” offensive
coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “I do believe there are some that
he needs to cram in there and get the positive gain and not try to
slip it outside.”
Suggestions have also been made recently that Peterson is
unintentionally “telling” the defense when a running play is
coming with his eyes by staring too hard at the hole before the
Peterson claimed he hadn’t heard about that, and both coach Brad
Childress and Bevell – while acknowledging the issue has been
addressed – downplayed any concern.
The biggest concern, rather, was that the Cardinals simply
played rougher and tougher up front.
“It was all the way around the board,” Childress said. “We
didn’t change the line of scrimmage. Typically if you’re going to
run the football, we need to change the line of scrimmage on the
Health didn’t help.
Both tackles, Bryant McKinnie (ankle) and Phil Loadholt
(shoulder), left briefly before returning. Left guard Steve
Hutchinson (back, shoulder) hasn’t missed any time, but he has had
some injuries. Backup Artis Hicks was already starting at right
guard for Anthony Herrera (concussion), who is expected to return
to the lineup this week.
Still, the Vikings have been getting beat in an area they
“You’re running into an eight-man box, and they’re flying
around the field,” center John Sullivan said. “It’s hard to block
those defenders when they’re running around all over the place. It
created some problems for us, but we’re working that stuff out. You
have to learn from it. We’re very critical. That’s that way it
goes. Sometimes you go out there and you get your butt kicked. So
we’ll try to spin into something positive.”
McKinnie indicated the Vikings have put in simpler plays this
week. He said the running problems have stemmed both from stacked
lines and some miscommunications between blockers.
“That’s something we’re working on,” he said.
There was also chatter this week that McKinnie has been tipping
the defense when a pass play is coming.
With an injured ankle and a loud crowd the 6-foot-8 left tackle
spent the whole game last Sunday in a two-point stance, usually a
sign that a team is going to throw the ball. But neither Childress
nor McKinnie expressed concern about this, and McKinnie said he’s
focused instead on fixing some inconsistencies in his three-point
stance for the future.
For all the talk about possible tells, it’s simply on the
Vikings to run and block smarter and better.
“The important thing throughout the offensive line is always
the communication,” Bevell said. “It’s key for our offensive line
to play as one.”