After one week, it's advantage Johnson, at least according to the rushing yardage statistics. And going by that mark alone, there are several other contenders in the party.
Houston running back Arian Foster had a 231-yard game against Indianapolis to put his early claim to that title and Johnson got off to a solid start in defense of his 2,006-yard season last year. Johnson had 142 yards rushing in the Titans' season opener.
Peterson is ranked eighth in the league with 87 yards rushing after Week 1.
"I feel like I'm the best in the game. That's just my mindset and how I play," Peterson said Thursday. "Two totally different teams when you look at the Vikings and Tennessee Titans. With my offensive line, those guys are hungry and those guys have the same expectations as me as far as the running game, being the best running offense in the league. That's our goal."
To be fair, Foster had 33 carries, Johnson had 27 and Peterson was limited to only 19 carries, including only six in the second half of the season opener in New Orleans. Peterson's lack of carries in the second half has set off another debate about whether or not he is getting the ball enough after only one week of play.
"We were trying to run the ball, did a good job in the first half," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "I believe the first drive in the second half there were three runs in a row, didn't convert a first down. … It got to a point where, I think there were four drives in a row when the first play was a run and then I said, ‘Hey, I need to change that up the first play of the series,' and then that series ended up being all passes. I go back, I look at it, I critique myself just like I critique these guys. (We) probably could have run the ball more."
Peterson said it would be "lovely" if he would get 40 carries a game.
"I have faith in my offensive coordinator that he'll do a good job of balancing out the offense and we'll be productive in the long run," Peterson said.
But there is this stat from the Elias Sports Bureau: The Saints game was only the second time in Peterson's NFL career that he played in a game "but did not have a single carry in a quarter in which, throughout the quarter, neither team led by more than eight points (in other words, it was a close game, a one-possession game, throughout the quarter)."
Bevell said he doesn't mind the debate between Johnson and Peterson as long as it motivates them on the field.
"It fuels their competitiveness, and if it makes them play better on Sunday and work that much harder, I'm all for it. It's a good debate. It's fun," Bevell said.
"I don't think you could find a more competitive guy (than Peterson) and I think that shows in his running style, how much he scratches and crawls and keeps his legs running and puts his head down. He's a crazy competitor. I think I might be biased in that debate."
Bevell said Peterson and Johnson have different skills sets, and Peterson acknowledged that there are many different ways to define what makes the best running back in the league. For him, it comes down to the best all-around back and someone who can make big plays.
One criticism of Peterson is that he fumbles too much. He had seven fumbles last year and the Vikings lost six of them, creating an emphasis on ball security this offseason. He said he didn't really feel the Saints going after the ball more than once or twice during the opener, but he also said he wasn't concentrating on them doing it either.
"I was doing my job keeping it high and tight and handing the ball back to the ref," he said.
HARVIN HELD OUT
The wide receiver corps suffered another setback on Thursday. After being limited on Wednesday, Percy Harvin didn't practice on Thursday because of a hip injury. Harvin was in the locker room after practice but declined to comment.
The rest of the injury report for the Vikings and Dolphins remained unchanged from Wednesday.
CBs Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin (knees), DT Jimmy Kennedy (knee) and T Bryant McKinnie (finger) continued to be limited. Brett Favre (ankle/back), Toby Gerhart (knee) and John Sullivan (calf) remained full participants.
For the Dolphins, DE Ikaika Alama-Francis (illness), LB Channing Crowder (groin) and DE Jared Odrick (ankle) did not practice and were the only players listed on the injury report. Odrick will not play.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.