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

games.

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

himself.

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

snack.

“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

snap.

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

offensive side.”

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

usually don’t.

“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.”