Something to Prove

LAKE FOREST - Adrian Peterson beat out Brock Forsey as the third string running back. The way Peterson ran in the preseason may be a surprise to everyone, but the former sixth-round draft pick.

The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder went to camp in 2003 with a chance to compete with Anthony Thomas for the starting job. While that never materialized, Peterson made his first career start against Seattle in Week 7. He rushed for a career-high 55 yards, but suffered the injury that would eventually land him on Injured Reserve.

"I knew that this would be my big chance. 2004 could make or break my career," Peterson said. "I realized that the only way I'd make an impression on the new coaching staff was to go all out from the first mini-camp on through Bourbonnais. They didn't have too much game film on me from 2003. Coach Shea and Coach Smith needed to see that I could get the job done."

With Thomas Jones entrenched as the starter and Thomas as the backup, Peterson's main competition for the third string role came from Brock Forsey.

As a rookie Forsey played in nine games and started two, including a 134-yard performance against the Arizona Cardinals.

In the preseason Peterson put up the better numbers, but did benefit from playing behind the starting offensive line. He had the fifth most yards of any back during the exhibition season with 214 yards. He also reached the end zone three times.

Behind the second string o-line Forsey had trouble finding holes, which can partially explain his 3.6 yard average on 10 carries.

Both backs put up huge numbers rushing the ball in college, but coming from small college programs catching the ball out of the backfield was part of their responsibilities. However Peterson tied for second on the team with five receptions in the preseason and proved to be a better fit in Terry Shea's offense.

"That probably helped, but I believe that it was my day to day effort that got me the job," Peterson said. "At times I've felt that I've had trouble getting respect for what I can do. I'm always working to improve. I've earned what I've achieved. I've been able to build on a strong college record and make a successful transition to the pros."

Peterson's production could afford the Bears the luxury of trading Thomas for a draft pick, which might be best for both sides.

Thomas is trying to say the right things about accepting a backup role, but the former Offensive Rookie of the Year could be ready for a change of scenery and the Bears appear to have the depth to allow it to happen.


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