Vikings' Peterson back to 'All Day' mindset
OCT 23, 2012 6:18p ET
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier approached running back Adrian Peterson last week after two days in which his running back didn't practice because of a sore ankle and asked Peterson if he would be ready for a lot of carries in Sunday's game.
Frazier wanted to see the reaction from Peterson — never one to shy from a heavy workload — and how his ankle would respond after being more sore following the previous week's game.
After seeing what he hoped when Peterson returned to full participation in Friday's practice, Frazier unleashed his star back on the Arizona Cardinals' previously well-regarded run defense and Peterson helped carry Minnesota to a 21-14 victory with 153 yards rushing on 23 carries. After trying to remain cautious with Peterson through his ACL rehab, Frazier has reached the point he's willing to let Peterson shoulder the load.
"I do feel like we're at that point now where we don't have to be overly concerned about the number of snaps, but we do always have to be conscious of fatigue and looking ahead," Frazier said Tuesday. "For the moment, I don't think we have to feel like we have to pull the reins back. He's come a long way."
Frazier felt the Vikings would need a big game from Peterson to beat Arizona, which harassed quarterback Christian Ponder into an 8 of 17, 58-yard, two-interception performance.
Peterson has gotten stronger as the season has continued, proving so Sunday with an array of big runs and showing even more burst and his cutting ability than he had all season. The 23 carries were two off his season-high, and the 153 yards were the most he's had in a single game since rushing for 175 yards against the Green Bay Packers last October.
"Everything I saw on Sunday reminded of the Adrian we're all so familiar in seeing over the course of his career; the burst, the explosiveness, the quickness, running through tackles, and I know it's just a matter of time before that 60-yard run comes," Frazier said.
Plus, the troublesome ankle responded well to the extra reps Sunday. Peterson wasn't as sore afterward. He did sit out Tuesday's practice, but the absence was more precautionary due to the short recovery time for Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their third-ranked run defense.
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano understands why Frazier has been willing to let Peterson return to the workhorse role.
"He runs with an attitude and he's got the body and the skills to do it," Schiano said. "There are some guys who float. This guy runs angry."
Peterson's returned to being the focal point of Minnesota's offense with 652 rushing yards this season, tied for the third-highest total in the NFL. His 4.8 yards per carry this season is right in line with his career average. He's also third on the team with 22 catches for 135 yards.
Peterson enjoyed Sunday's game and getting back to carrying the Vikings' offense, much like he did when he was a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first four years in the league before last year's injury-riddled season. He still gets the questions about whether he's completely back from knee surgery in December. He says he's still missing something, even though teammates, coaches and opponents don't see it.
"I feel myself getting stronger each week," Peterson said. "I want to say I'm (completely back), but that would be a lie."
He showed last week his surgically repaired knee is more than strong enough to handle the weight of Minnesota's offense.
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