Back in the Mix

With Cedric Benson out for a month with a knee injury and Thomas Jones trying to return from bruised ribs, Adrian Peterson is proving he's more than just a special teams performer.

Peterson ended the day against the 49ers with a career high 120 yards on 24 attempts and the only offensive touchdown of the game. While he was happy about the results, he was frustrated that onlookers seemed surprised at his production.

"I am here to play and that's what I do best," Peterson said. "I want to get a carry on every play. If they give me that chance, then I will do everything that I can to get the yards."

Peterson had to carry the offense for much of the game with Jones inactive and Benson carted off the field in the second quarter.

"With Benson out and Thomas Jones and his rib problem, that left me as the go to guy," Peterson said. "I wasn't bothered at all by the pressure. In fact, if anything, I'd say that I thrive on it. I felt that it was an opportunity to demonstrate what I could do. That it came out well is all to the good."

Peterson earned a roster spot in recent years because of his special teams play. In 2004, he led the Bears with a career-high 28 special teams tackles in 14 games. Now he's excited about having the opportunity to carry the ball again.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining at all," Peterson said. "I am more than happy to contribute any place and any time that the team needs me, but I came here expecting to produce for the Bears. The more opportunity they give me to do that the better as far as I am concerned."

Peterson may see his role considerably expanded during the coming weeks with Benson's out, and Jones still recovering from bruised ribs.

"Adrian is a dependable every play type back," said offensive coordinator Ron Turner. "He's durable and has tremendous leg power. I also like his desire. If there is a hole anywhere near, he'll get through it."

Peterson seemed somewhat surprised although not unsettled by the media waiting by his locker after the game.

"A lot of times I'll get dressed and go before anybody knows I'm here so this is a refreshing change," Peterson said. "But that's not the reason I play this game. I love football and its something that I have the ability to do well. I think I proved my ability in college when I was the country's leading rusher. If I can be effective in the NFL that's even better. This is my chance and I'm going to prove that I can do more than just fill a spot on the roster."

Peterson came to the Bears in the sixth round of the 2002 draft out of Division I-AA Georgia Southern. He was a four-time consensus All-American and All-Conference pick during his college career. Peterson is college football's all-time rusher with 6,593 yards on 996 career attempts.

The five-foot-10, 210-pounder sees himself as a go-to player for years to come.

"I am here for the long haul," Peterson said. "I came to the NFL to play and to excel just as I did in college. If this is just being recognized now, then I have to deal with that. My confidence level has never been higher. I know that I can get the job done and I welcome any opportunity to show what I can do."

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