Every spring and summer, running back Adrian Peterson gets asked if he expects to have a bigger role in the passing game. This year is no exception, but it is fair to wonder if he will be busier than usual in that area.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is known, amongst many other things, for distributing passes to his running backs. In recent years, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles and the immortal Chris Ogbonnaya all caught at least 45 balls in a season. Last year, with Peterson suspended, Matt Asiata caught 44 passes and Jerick McKinnon chipped in with 27 catches.
With Peterson back, many of those catches will be funneled to him.
Peterson has been prolifically productive as a runner but far from perfect as a pass-catcher. His hands have been shaky at times, and when it comes to pass protection, he hasn’t been as reliable as one would expect.
That being said, Peterson has usually looked pretty natural while snagging passes in the early stages of training camp. So he was asked yesterday if he put in extra work with the JUGS machine during the offseason.
“Not really,” said Peterson, who had two catches for 18 yards in one 2014 game. “I always work on my hands during the offseason. No more, no less.”
Then the 30-year-old running back brought up an interesting point when it comes to his role in the passing game in past years.
“Think about when Brett Favre was here [in 2009 and 2010], when I actually had a quarterback that checked the ball down to the running backs,” Peterson said. “I did pretty decent.”
He did. In 2009, Favre’s first season here, Peterson established career highs with 43 catches and 436 receiving yards. His 10.1 yards-per-reception average was also the most in his career. He followed that up with 36 catches for 341 yards the following season.
While Teddy Bridgewater is not on the level as Favre, his childhood hero, he has shown a willingness so far to check it down after a few defensive backs chase, say, Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace deep down the field.
So opportunities will be there, even if Asiata or McKinnon end up getting more third-down work. If Peterson catches two or three passes a game, which isn’t unreasonable, he could top 40 catches for just the third time.
“It’s all about just getting the ball to us and we’ll catch it and do what we can do with it,” Peterson said.
On most mornings, we walk you through what’s going on with the Vikings.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
– Vikings backup quarterback Shaun Hill has made a name for himself. And it ain’t “Hank.”
– Slot duty calls for receiver Jarius Wright now that Greg Jennings is gone.
– Back in pads for the first time in a long, long, looong time, running back Adrian Peterson sought people to hit, even though they’re not allowed to hit him.
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
– Barring injury, the Packers are looking at the possibility of having the same five offensive linemen start in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2003-04.
– Wake up feeling like you’d want to own “The Fridge’s” Super Bowl XX ring? Well, you can put in a bid if you’d like because William Perry is selling. The starting bid is $16,000 and reported could fetch up to $1 million, according to this report.
– Forget the playoffs. The Lions aren’t shying away from talking about going to the Super Bowl. Of course, it’s July and everybody is talking about going to the Super Bowl.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
Groundhog Day Part IV begins and ends the same way it has since Sunday. The morning walkthrough at Blakeslee Stadium is 10:30-11:30. The afternoon practice starts at 2:45 and is scheduled to end at 5. Defensive linemen are signing autographs today.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
What’s the best No. 1-2 quarterback situation in the NFL? Which team has the best young, franchise-type leader who is being backed up by an experienced, savvy veteran who is comfortable being the backup and still has the ability to win a few games in a pinch. From this viewpoint, it’s the Colts. Andrew Luck is the leader of the next wave of great quarterbacks. And his backup is Matt Hasselbeck, a 39-year-old with 152 starts, 80 wins and a trip to the Super Bowl with Seattle. Where do the Vikings rank now that they have faith in young Teddy Bridgewater and old(er) Shaun Hill?