Adrian Peterson said two weeks ago he was excited to be in an offense where he is "more free."
Put in the context of starting over with a Norv Turner-led offense, that means the new offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings is looking to find ways to get Peterson the ball in his hands with fewer defenders around him. The most logical way to accomplish that is involving Peterson more in the passing game, something that Turner has become known for with his running backs.
"I'm excited to be in this offense. Just, as a whole, what Coach Turner brings is pretty amazing and more free. Able to digest everything as a group and I think it's going to be fun," Peterson said after the first round of organized team activities.
After a couple more weeks in the system, Turner said Peterson has been "fabulous" as he acclimates to a completely different and generally more complicated offense compared to the one run by Bill Musgrave for the last three years with the Vikings.
"He's been outstanding," Turner said of Peterson. "I think you've just got to be smart in the type of routes you ask a receiver like that to run. If people go back and look at Emmitt (Smith) and L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) and those guys, they'll see similar routes that we're going to use with Adrian."
The most receptions Peterson has had in a season is 43 and that was in 2009 with Brett Favre as his quarterback.
In two of the three seasons that Turner was head coach of the San Diego Chargers with LaDainian Tomlinson as his running back, Tomlinson had 52 and 60 receptions. Once Darren Sproles established himself as a viable threat as a change of pace to Tomlinson, Sproles averaged 43 catches over a three-season stretch with Turner. In three seasons (1991-93) with Turner as offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, Emmitt Smith averaged 55 receptions per season.
"I've been lucky. I've been around the best of the best and he's right up there with them. He's been fabulous," Turner said of Peterson. "He's going to really enjoy what we're doing and a lot of what we're going to do is stuff he's done at a high level. We'd be silly not to. He needs to be the leader of this offense and then we can build around that."
Peterson has never been known as a fluid receiver, but his first catch as a pro was a short reception he took out of the backfield in 2007 and turned into a 60-yard touchdown. He knows what's possible when he gets the ball in his hands with room to make defenders miss.
"I'm pretty excited about that," he said about the potential be used more in the passing game. "The whole running back room is (excited), just to be more diverse as an offense. And be more involved in the pass game is something I've been looking forward to for a long time."
The Vikings have already been working on a lot of different looks offensively, but Turner knows how to build around his best players and Peterson fits that description. Apparently Turner agrees, making it an interesting sidebar to Turner's initial season with Peterson.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Turner: Peterson ‘fabulous' in offense so far
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