Notebook: Gerhart stews on the fumble

Toby Gerhart knows how important it is to hang onto the football, but he fumbled before he reached his 10th NFL carry. Plus, thoughts on Phil Loadholt's false starts, a new center-QB record, another potential mark for Adrian Peterson and more.

Selected readings from Adrian Peterson's 2009 season: 314 carries, seven fumbles, six lost. That's one fumble every 45 carries and longship full of criticism during the offseason.

Toby Gerhart is feeling an even greater sting in the first chapter of his career. The rookie hasn't built up the sweat equity of Peterson and in only seven carries already has a fumble. He admitted this week that he's kicking himself "a ton" for that mistake with 7:56 left in the Vikings' 24-10 win over Detroit.

He knows all the reasons it was a big deal.

"That's a huge point in the game," he said. "It puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and it takes points off the board for the offense. It makes it a three-score game instead of a two-score game. You want to go out there and make good impressions and that's the worst thing you can do.

"…At that point in the game, you definitely, as you're going down, you want to hold it with two hands. That's something you try to be cautious about, is as you go down, the ball kind of gets away from you, and just make sure I wrap it up tight."

Ironically, the week before Gerhart talked about his nervousness after being active for the first time in a game and said he just didn't want to fumble his carry in the NFL. It turned out to be his seventh carry of the season that got away.

Gerhart is getting some action on third downs, which can be as big a mental challenge as it is physical. With blitzes coming from every angle and knowing when to and where to get out on a pass route, that role can be a challenge for rookie running backs.

"It's live bullets. There's no room for error, and everything's a little bit faster, upbeat, up-tempo than there is in practice, and just being on the same page with him and the offensive line is critical," Gerhart said.

One mistake there and it might be worse than a fumble. It could mean a season-ending injury for the quarterback he grew up idolizing. Who says there isn't much pressure on rookie backups?


Phil Loadholt is in his second year starting, but there is still plenty of thinking going on for the right tackle.

Detroit's defensive line presented a different challenge, with some quick defensive ends, but Loadholt also said he needs to be aware of what the secondary is doing as well.

"It wasn't as complicated in college. A little more complicated now, got a lot more things to worry about. It's a little different," he said.

Loadholt was flagged for two false starts and said some of that had to with a new center in the game. Ryan Cook, who hadn't played center during a regular-season game with Loadholt, was called into duty when starter John Sullivan was lost for the game with a calf injury on the offense's first play from scrimmage.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said there is a lot for Loadholt to focus on during a play, but he defended his abilities.

"That guy has to do a lot of different things in terms of blocking the speed rush, being a factor in the run game," Childress said. "He's a good football player."


Cook could end up starting his first game at center in place of the injured John Sullivan when the Vikings return to action Oct. 11 against the New York Jets. If that happens, Cook will be only 122 starts behind of the combination of Favre and former Packers center Frank Winters.

The service of the center-QB combination came up this week because Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday are on the verge of starting their 157th game together, which will break the record of Jim Kelly and Kent Hull among starting QB-center duos.


Adrian Peterson has already established a number of franchise and NFL records, including the league's single-game rushing mark with 296 yards against San Diego in 2007, but he and another young back are vying for some more elite air.

Houston's Arian Foster is the current rushing leader with 406 yards and has 96 yards receiving through three games. Peterson has 392 yards and 85 yards receiving.

If they reach 500 yards rushing and 100 receiving in their fourth game this season (Peterson was to wait a week because of the Vikings' bye), they would join Emmitt Smith and Billy Sims as the only backs in NFL history to reach those two marks in four games.

Nine running backs since 1970 have amassed 500 rushing yards through their club's first four games of a season, but only Smith and Sims have added 100 yards receiving.


  • There was a time that Brett Favre might have been part of this group, but this season there have been five individual 400-yard passing games so far. That is the most through the first three weeks of the season.

    Favre's high so far this year: 225 yards against Miami on Sept. 19.

  • Favre is also in the conversation for the number of wins he has amassed in games started.

    New England's Tom Brady has 99 regular-season wins and could become the 22nd QB in NFL history win 100 games. But he should reach that mark quicker than any other player. If he wins Monday night, he would do it in 131 games, breaking Joe Montana's record of 139 games. Favre needed 153 games to reach the century mark, putting him in third place.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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