After a down year (for him) in 2009, Adrian Peterson's career rushing average per game dipped below 100. With a big night against the New York Jets when the Vikings return to action, Peterson can push his average back above 100 in front of a national television audience and start the adulation once again.
During the offseason, Adrian Peterson
faced something that was foreign to him. He was no longer viewed as the pre-eminent running back in the NFL, thanks in part to an electric season from Titans speedster Chris Johnson
and in part Peterson's own struggles in 2009. While he led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18, his forte was the long run and racking up 100-yard games with dominating performances. As a rookie, he topped 100 yards six times (and 200 yards twice) in 14 games. In 2008, he rushed for 100 yards or more in 10 of 16 games. In 2009, he ran for 100 yards just three times, with none of them coming in the final seven games of the regular season. While far from ordinary, his stranglehold on the top dog spot was gone.
Johnson started something of a war of words when he proclaimed himself the top running back in the NFL and threw down the gauntlet. In the meantime, not only were most offseason analysts on the NFL Network and ESPN filling in dead time with such debates, they actually began to mock Peterson. He is a liability because of his penchant for fumbling and, at times, should be benched as punishment.
Three games into a season in which the Vikings have struggled badly on offense, Peterson has rushed the ball 70 times for 392 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 131 yards a game and is on pace to run 373 times for 2,091 yards. Prior to his December swoon last year, Peterson had averaged more than 100 yards a game as a pro. By season's end, he had dropped to 97.5 yards a game. Thanks to his strong start, he's getting back closer to that career milestone – after three games, he is now at 99.5 yards a game for his career.
He can get back to that 100-yard-per-game plateau with 124 yards against the Jets, which would be fitting considering it will be a nationally-televised Monday night game and would provide two milestones – topping 5,000 yards in 50 career games.
Peterson has taken over the Vikings offense after it was thought he would do so when Brett Favre
arrived. How could you put eight in the box with Favre at the wheel? Yet, 2009 was Peterson's worst rushing season of his career. His per-carry average was at its lowest of his career. A year later, when it would seem logical to stack eight in the box, Peterson is off to the fastest start of his career.
His selection as NFC Offensive Player of the Week was a deserved honor. If he puts another big performance together in his 50th career game a week from Monday, he may be the talk of the NFL once again – and take his place back on the throne that is bestowed on the King of All Running Backs.
Peterson's NFC Offensive Player of the Week award was the fourth of his career and his first since Nov. 9, 2008, when he carried 30 times for 192 yards and a touchdown against the Packers.
You never want to upset the biggest man on the team. Apparently that's what the Lions did to Pat Williams. In an interview on Sirius NFL Radio, Big Pat said the Lions were trying to be thugs. "They were trying to play tough – they because tried to cheap-shot us, using hands to the face and were pulling us down," Williams said, adding, "I hate when guys act tough when they ain't tough."
The Vikings will host the annual Taste of the NFL event at Mall of America from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday. Several current and former players will be on hand. Proceeds benefit the Vikings Children's Fund Summer Lunch Program, which provides meals for children in need. Almost a quarter-million Minnesota children don't have a summer lunch program. This summer, the program provided more than 600,000 meals for Minnesota kids.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated made an interesting observation in his Monday column. Clay Matthews has quickly become one of the more dominant defensive players in the league and, in part, the Packers can thank Favre for getting Matthews. The team coveted him and packaged a second-round pick and two third-round picks (the second of those being the pick received from the Jets in the Favre trade) were packaged together to the Patriots for the 26th pick in the draft. Green Bay used that pick to take Matthews, who likely wouldn't have been available if not for the additional third-rounder obtained for Favre.
The passing of George Blanda Monday brought many to make comparisons between Blanda and Favre – players who defied Father Time and went out on their own terms. For fans too young to remember Blanda, which are most considering how long ago it was in his heyday, hopefully NFL Network will be compelled to chronicle his life. Blanda led the first wide open passing offense in pro football history with Houston of the AFL. He posted some eye-popping numbers for the era and it was his offense with the Oilers that would eventually permeate into the NFL and change how the game was played.
The Vikings signed TE John Nalbone to the practice squad. Nalbone, 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, was a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2009, spent time on their active roster and practice squad last year and played in two games for Miami this year.
The Vikings released former Minnesota Gophers cornerback Marcus Sherels to make room for Nalbone.
The Vikings worked out four players on Tuesday – tackle Scott Koistra, kickers Hunter Lawrence and Swayze Water, and guard Donald Thomas – according to FoxSports.com's Adam Caplan.