Last week Darren Sproles was “all the rage” when Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that multiple teams had expressed an interest in the ultra-explosive multi-purpose running back. Originally expected to be released by the Saints, Sproles was instead traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth round pick.

 Norv Turner and Sproles had success together in San Diego for four seasons, so naturally the Minnesota Vikings were among the teams linked to the speculation and trade rumors.

 The Vikings obviously weren’t interested enough to offer their fifth round pick for Sproles…  and so, with the departure of Toby Gerhart to Jacksonville via free agency, Adrian Peterson could be looking at a heavy work load as it stands. 

In a recent interview with KFAN’s Paul Allen at the NFL Scouting Combine, Norv said, “I would expect Adrian Peterson to catch 50/60 balls next year.”

 Norv wants to get Adrian touches in open space, and one way to accomplish that is to throw him the ball more often. In 2013, Adrian only caught 29 balls for 171 yards and 1 touchdown.

 Adrain certainly has the make-you-miss moves and the breakaway speed of a smaller scat-back type of player, but he also has the size and power to run you over.

Even though Adrian has caught over 40 passes twice in his career, he is not widely recognized as a smooth open field pass catcher. At age 28, Peterson might need to flaunt a new element to his craft if he wants to maximize his potential and production in Norv’s new offensive system.

 60 receptions is a hefty goal to put on Adrian’s shoulders. Just how realistic is that expectation?

 Last season, under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Cleveland Browns used a committee of backs to split up the work load. Chris Ogbonnaya, Fozzy Whittaker, Trent Richardson, Edwin Baker, Willis McGahee and Bobby Rainey accounted for 96 receptions out of the backfield. Certainly the Vikings will not need to rotate a “hodge podge” of running backs the way the Browns did, which should allow Adrian to absorb the bulk of that pass catching production. Yes, 60 reception is very possible.

 A spread offense that regularly dumps the ball off to Adrian and Cordarelle Patterson, yet also takes some shots down field to Jennings, Rudolph, Simpson, Wright and Patterson is enough to get this rookie blogger all spiked-up for some football.

 As you can tell, I’m not terribly disappointed that the Vikings weren’t the highest bidder for Sproles, or that Toby won’t be wearing purple on Sundays. Instead, I’m intrigued to say the least, to see Norv challenge and push Adrian to a whole new level.

 The Vikings will not need to employ the running back by committee approach in 2014, but they will be eager for a dynamic play-maker to step up and grab the number two spot behind Adrian. GM Rick Spielman even hinted at the possibility of drafting a running back during a conference call last week.

 I am not 100% against the idea of drafting a running back, however, I would like to see the young backs currently on the roster get a quality opportunity in preseason to fight for that backup RB position. Bradley Randle and Zach Line have become fan favorites and it would be nice to see those guys step up in a big way during preseason. Both should fit well in Norv’s offense, and both should give Matt Asiata some competition.

Until that top backup running back emerges… I will just continue to dream about a throw-me-the-rock season for Adrian Peterson.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Peterson catches check down passes well. The areas he needs to improve in are blitz pickup and a feel and timing in the screen game (Offensive antidote for blitzing). As physical and accountable as AP is there is no excuse for his poor blocking. I believe that he will get better at blocking if they use him on 3rd downs and challenge his competetive spirit. AP and our guards need to get better at the deception and timing required to run an elite screen game. I wonder if these things will be prioritized (practice time) by Norv and offense in OTAs and preseason. I mean how many times does AP need to run Zone and power walkthrus at this point in his career?

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  2. Great comment Viking44
    The think the thing that makes Cassel valuable to the Vikings is his ability to read a defense and get rid of the ball quickly. If you have explosive dump off players like Adrian and Cordarelle ready in blitz situation with the field spread out… Norv will burn up a defense.

    When you have a smart, tall, quick release QB like Cassel, why ask Peterson to pick up a blitz on 3rd and long? Just get the ball out to him or Cordarelle quicky and let them do the work.

    Norv needs to work with these players to make sure they’re on the same page with Cassel. I trust Norv will design an offense that focuses on the strengths of our players, rather than put them in positions that are weak in or less dynamic.

    The goal is to put the ball in Adrian and Cordarelle’s hands often. Asking them to be great blockers is a noble challenge… but Norv is smart enough to know that that will not scare a defense.

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    • Sorry, that last comment should begin with “I think”…
      My mind to fingers coordination is way off.

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  3. I agree with getting AP more involved with the passing game, however, I would do it with caution. Even though he is not your average athlete, he is 28 (29 on March 21st), I would monitor his touches and not lean on him too heavily. As good as AP is, father time always wins, especially for running backs. I think more than ever, the Vikes need to invest in a true scat back to take some of the load off from him.

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  4. I agree Norse .. I also wouldn’t say Adrian catches check downs well, unless well is average. It usually looks funny when he catches in stride. If he’s stopped.. Back to the coverage, it’s an injury risk for a guy other teams want out of the game. It’s valuable to use him in different ways, but if he did it well they’d have used him like Arian foster (catches fluidly) or Marshall Faulk (fluid and adept at making people miss when stopped) neither of which run people over or come out of 5 man piles to go for 60 yards .. I would like to see a good versatile back behind him this year.

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    • I agree that Adrian is not a natural catcher of the football, that’s never been his strong suit. I also have never liked how his standard route the last few years has been a little hook two yards beyond the LOS, typically with multiple LB’s bearing down on him the second the ball leaves the QB’s hands. If they can acually get him in space with some forward momentum he’ll be much more successful. I also think his problem in pass pro is with recognizing who he is supposed to be blocking. He normally does a decent job when it’s just one guy breaking through and he can be decisive. If more than one guy flashes he seems to have trouble deciding who to block and ends up getting no one.

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  5. I just got done saying how I hate Jim Irsay and that if I owned a team you’d only hear from me when I was replacing my GM. My box seats would be behind tinted glass so you couldn’t see me flipping shit about missed blocks and shanked extra points, or that I have a headset on and I’m “listening” to the coordinators.

    Then he goes and makes headlines.

    Anyways, I’m sorry for hating on you Jim. But haters gonna hate. Get a chauffeur.

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  6. Saw that the Cowgirls signed Weeden to a 2 year deal. Kinda strange that they signed him first when half of their D-line left and JA and Melton are visiting.

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          • Orton may be retiring so they needed a backup QB, especially with Romo coming off that back injury. Not a terrible move in my opinion, but the questions about their D-line are certainly valid.

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      • Johnny,
        I hope not, I don’t want to see someone that knows what their doing make the moves for the cowboys.
        :)

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  7. Bridgewater is now off my list. No Johnny football and no Bridgewater. Bridgewater is now going to drop in the draft big time.

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    • bummer…I wanted all three QBs to go ahead of us…that combined with 2 OLs and that top DE stud and then that would leave the top WR and LB and one would be there for us to take or trade….now if Bridgewater drops that WR and LB will go ahead of us…..what this really shows is what a lot of you have been saying…none of these QBs is worthy of a top ten pick…….makes draft day a lot of FUN!

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  8. Seems a bit reactionary to off him for having an off day. That’s the downside to not throwing at the combine or senior bowls.. It’s all on that one workout. Pretty stressful. Fortunately for him he has significant tape on record. It’s not completely out of the question that the vikings and or his agent tampered. Visit with him a day ahead, mention that it might benefit him to slide past Oakland and Jacksonville .. Go ahead and miss some throws Teddy, you can wear #8 in purple next year.

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    • That could be so CM…and something I hadn’t considered. Might lose a few bucks doing that…And by a few I mean a couple million.
      I was never sold on TB, or any of these QB’s in this years draft. Don’t believe any are worthy 1st rounders. Manziel is maybe worth it because he has that playmaking ability, that’s hard to find…but you also get the chance that he’ll blow up in your face and be one of the biggest bust’s ever. I don’t know, could depend on where he lands…not sure if it’d be a grand idea with Zim and him…or maybe a dude like Zim is just what he needs. I doubt Johnny is there at 8 anyways. I’m fine with going with the best LB (Mack, Barr).

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  9. You’re losing millions more by losing football games. Jax and Oak have ruined recent draftees careers, whether it’s the talent or the cultivation of is hard to say.

    A lot of people have questioned whether David Carrs career was destroyed by the organization. Honestly I have no idea how you don’t start a veteran your first season of expansion. What do you have to gain by putting a rookie QB out there?

    I was joking about the tampering and blowing smoke haha

    I’ll go the other way and say there are 2 starters that come from this class. I agree on Johnny to an extent. I don’t think his floor is that low. We’ve had some serious QB busts. He obviously has some talent. It is a huge weapon to be able to create unique throwing lanes. Some of what he does can break perfect coverage. Everyone knocks him for one bad game. One game against one of the most talented teams in the country. All that makes you forget the kid was one of the easiest choices for Heisman there’s been. I measure a bust against expectations, and with so many people expecting him to fail, I don’t think he can fall that flat on his face.

    I kind of laugh at reading Tampas GM saying he sees franchise guys in the later rounds. He references being part of drafting tom Brady as proof he knows what he’s talking about. If New England had a clue what they were getting they wouldn’t have passed on him 5 times. There’s no poker face when drafting a hall of famer. High fiving “yeah we waited several rounds to draft a hall of famer” You got lucky as hell. You were expecting a practice squad dummy.

    http://www.footballperspective.com/what-did-the-media-say-about-tom-brady-in-2000/

    Kiper didn’t even mention him when grading the pats draft.

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