Sunday, March 29, 2015
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adrian peterson

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Jerome Felton underwent an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday, according to numerous sources, but the recovery time is typically quick and he is expected to return to action in time for the Vikings regular season opener.

The combination of Felton’s absence, and Adrian Peterson’s extremely limited (if any) live-action reps, brings the battles for backup halfback and fullback spots to the forefront. With two starters mostly sidelined, it opens the door for others to get more reps and give the Vikings more reasons to keep them around in September, or allows the team to build a case that supports their release.

A guy like Zach Line, who scampered for a 61 yard touchdown last week after catching a Matt Cassel pass, seems in line for extra work during these three remaining preseason games.  If he can continue to make big contributions, and shows that he can be a versatile blocker and special teams player, the Vikings may have a very tough time trying to sneak him onto the practice squad.

In short, I’m looking forward to getting an extended look at the guys who play behind two Pro Bowl starters.  Who knows, if enough of the step up and have big-time showings, then maybe we start to hear a little more chatter about the possibility of Toby Gerhart being on the trading block.

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2013 Training Camp - Christian Ponder
(Photo by Chris Price.)

Vikings players reported to training camp this past Thursday and two days in we already have some catching up to do. Though the first two sessions were without pads, there are still some interesting notes from Friday and Saturday.

  • Let’s talk health first… Through the first two days of camp, the Vikings have emerged relatively unscathed. The biggest piece of injury related news was that nose tackle Letroy Guion was forced to leave the first day of camp with a right elbow injury. Guion, who is presently in competition for his spot with backup Fred Evans, had x-rays done that night to determine the severity of the injury. Luckily, the images came back negative and he should be participating again soon.
  • Now on to Christian Ponder as he has been the primary focus of media and fans the first two sessions. The word out of camp so far isn’t good for #7. Talk has been that Ponder has struggled early with accuracy and often checking down to his tight ends. Ponder threw an interception to Blanton in passing drills, an almost-interception on a pass to Greg Jennings which was dropped by Jamarca Sanford, etc… And apparently, struggles in the passing game continued into Day 2. It’s worth noting that the weather has been nasty at Mankato with some pretty strong gusts. Of his performance and the weather, Ponder told reporters, “The first day was tough with the wind especially… On certain throws, you try to [put] touch on the ball, and if you do that it’s gone. A couple hung in the air and the wind took them away and it looked like some bad plays. It’s going to happen.” Kevin Seifert of ESPN North notes that Ponder did have some nice passes if you’re a glass half full kind of guy.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson has already become a fan favorite at camp with a pretty nice sideline, one-handed grab.

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Buried at the bottom of my bucket list, right above win a mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars, is a desire I’ve been craving for nearly 40 years – watch the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl World Championship. If I believe what Adrian Peterson is saying, and I have no reason not to, I just might be checking one of those items off my list in the near future.

Last year at this time, I was hearing Peterson say he was planning to come back better than ever by week one. My heart was telling me “that sounds great,” but my mind was focused on how good Toby Gerhart was going to play while filling the gap until I actually saw a healthy #28 on the football field. Little did I realize that Peterson was speaking the truth. Toby would be nothing more than an afterthought as Peterson chased Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record.

At the Pro Bowl, Peterson predicted he would win the NFL’s MVP award. He was right. On that special night in February when All Day accepted his MVP trophy… he told the world he was going to win it again next year, then looked at coach Frazier with a twinkle in his eyes and added, “I’m going to win the most important award, the team award, the Super Bowl.

A couple months later, Peterson told Maggie Gray of Sports Illustrated in a video interview, “I want a couple of rings. We’ve got to start at one and we need to get it this year. We have the potential to get to the Super Bowl and win. It’s all about coming together”. The big quote that stole the show was when Peterson said “I’m going to let the chips fall. I got my bar set at 2500 yards. If that happens, the record will be shattered.”

Adrian Peterson has earned the right to talk. In 2012, he had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history falling just nine yards short of Dickerson’s rushing title. Unfortunately for Viking fans, all the experts are saying Peterson’s goals can’t be reached. They say the odds are stacked against the Minnesota Vikings and their superstar. The consensus is the goals are simply too unrealistic even for the immortal Adrian Peterson.

Nope, I’m not buying that. No way. No how. ESPN and all the naysayers need to take notice. Adrian Peterson and the upstart Minnesota Vikings will contrive the greatest multi-game sports event since Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire battled it out for the MLB home run title in 1998. One thing is for sure, America will slow down this fall to soak it all in.

Keep talking Adrian. I believe. Coach Frazier and your young impressionable Vikings’ teammates believe… and the world will soon follow.

As Adrian speaks, so may it be written and so shall it be truth!

We started off our preview series by discussing the depth chart at quarterback.  I neglected to discuss Christian Ponder’s ability to run the football, one that cannot be underestimated by opposing defenses, but when talking about the Vikings offense it isn’t going to be Ponder’s legs that steal the show.

Adrian Peterson returned from major knee surgery to make 2012 the best season of his Hall of Fame career.  He started every game for the first time in his six NFL seasons.  He averaged a ridiculous six yards per carry, despite a consistent extra man or two being brought into the box to stop him, and ended the season just nine yards shy of the all time rushing record.  His 2,097 rushing yards were more than enough to lead the NFL, but so were his 76 broken tackles and 1,438 yards accumulated after contact.  He also scored 12 touchdowns one the ground and had a whopping five runs of over 60 yards.

Peterson’s dedication and work ethic are surely a huge part of his big comeback season, and it is easy to forget about the man who paved the way for him, but Pro bowl fullback Jerome Felton deserves a lot of credit for all of that success, as well.  The Vikings were wise to re-sign Felton this offseason and make sure their duo stays intact for at least one more season, as Felton proved to be a major upgrade ahead of Peterson and also blocked cleanly in pass protection, and he never committed a single penalty.

With Peterson and Felton both having robust contracts relative to their positions, and stated goals to increase their roles within the offense, there is no doubt that they will retain their seats atop the depth chart.  The primary backup to Peterson is still expected to be Toby Gerhart, who ran the ball only 50 times for 169 yards and a touchdown last season, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see his role continue to diminish as he plays out his rookie contract.

Gerhart’s true value lies in his ability to step in and be a workhouse in the event that Peterson goes down with an injury.  He has shown the ability to do this in the past and, despite being benched for a case of fumblitis against the Niners, the lack of any big signings or draft selections at the running back position suggests that the Vikings staff feels comfortable with him as the primary backup.  Besides, he is a very serviceable option when it comes to stepping in on third down for pass protection and as a decent hands guy to run the checkdown routes.  Gerhart caught 20 balls for 155 yards in 2012, and nine of those catches converted into first downs.

While other teams are dealing with murder scandals and bare-assed quarterbacks, Leslie Frazier’s Vikings are keeping things pretty quiet these days, which is every bit as important as it is boring.  Still, despite being in witching hour of the NFL offseason, there are some interesting notes from around the web to bring to your attention:

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