Vikings’ offense has been rough with Peterson out
Through their first two preseason games, the best performance
from Minnesota’s first-team offense has been by rookie punter Jeff
The Vikings haven’t done much well in these exhibition games
yet. Each incompletion by Christian Ponder or three-and-out series
by the unit has only heightened concerns whether this team can be
balanced enough to build off last year’s playoff appearance.
Even when the wins and losses don’t matter, decent showings will
somewhat appease the fans, soften the skepticism of the analysts,
and most importantly give the coaches and players confidence in a
chemistry carry-over to the regular season.
”Yeah, there would be some reason for concern if we don’t do
certain things that we’ve set out to get accomplished in this
ballgame, or any ballgame,” coach Leslie Frazier said on
The Vikings are at San Francisco on Sunday, and most of the
starters are expected to play into the third quarter. But before
this becomes an anxiety-raising, must-thrive event, there’s a
critical fact to point out about the way the offense bumbled
through the first two games.
”I was coming off the sideline saying, `Oh, my gosh, what are
we doing?”’ wide receiver Greg Jennings said. ”Like, we were
struggling. And then I saw this guy on the sideline that had this
`28′ jersey on, and he wasn’t dressed, and I’m like `Oh, yeah. I
forgot. We don’t have a big part of our offense out here that draws
a lot of attention.’ So this week will be a lot better.”
Assessing a team without the league’s rushing leader and Most
Valuable Player is hardly worth it, especially considering the way
the Vikings revolve around their star running back Adrian Peterson.
This week against the 49ers, the plan is for Peterson to be on the
”If you’re an offensive player, we definitely want to take some
steps forward,” Peterson said.
The Vikings have averaged only 14 first downs and 276 yards over
the first two games, though that includes all of the time logged by
backups and long shots trying to make the team. Ponder is 6 for 14
for 68 yards and one interception. His passer rating is 28.3.
So this next exhibition will be a valuable opportunity for
Ponder to continue trying to establish a rhythm with Jennings,
rookie Cordarrelle Patterson and the rest of his receivers. Don’t
expect a polished product either, Jennings said.
”Kinks will never completely be ironed out,” he said. ”There
will always be a new wrinkle that we put in that we’re going to be
trying to perfect. Just our relationship, our chemistry, we’re
going to try to perfect that forever.”
NOTES: The finalists for the punt returner role are incumbent
Marcus Sherels and fellow CB Bobby Felder, according to special
teams coordinator Mike Priefer. The Vikings have been grooming
Patterson for that job, too, but they’re trying to narrow his focus
for now. … DT Sharrif Floyd’s minor left knee operation went
fine, Frazier said, and he’s expected to be ready for the first
week of the regular season. … In addition to Floyd and FB Jerome
Felton, who’s out for the rest of August recovering from an
appendectomy, the only other significant player held out of
practice Wednesday was WR Jarius Wright (concussion symptoms).
AP NFL website: http://pro32.ap.org
Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP