Peterson: Pass pro an emphasis, not preseason
Vikings fans have been itching to see Adrian Peterson on the field running with the power and speed that has made him a Hall of Fame candidate. The Vikings have made it pretty clear that Peterson won’t be playing in any of their five preseason games.
There was a time when that would have upset Peterson. While he still wants to get some contact in and get the feel of playing live football rather than drills, he is also mindful that the Vikings don’t want to risk injury in games in which history won’t remember the final score.
“I am (wanting to play), but with that said I’m for being patient as well,” Peterson said. “I think I can wait for the first game (of the regular season against) the Niners.”
In the past, when the Vikings have shut him down for the preseason, Peterson tried to make a sincere lobbying effort. He did it with Brad Childress. He did it with Leslie Frazier. He did it with Mike Zimmer last year. In each instance, he failed to convince the coach to let him play.
Asked Saturday if he is still lobbying, Peterson responded like a veteran who has tried often and failed and now realizes why his coaches were tapping the brakes on cutting him loose.
“Not really,” Peterson said. “I’ve been here for a long time now. I’ve kind of outgrown wanting to play in the preseason. It really doesn’t matter. Throw all your marbles out there when it really counts.”
One area where Peterson will be getting some contact during training camp is in pass protection, where he isn’t delivering the blow, he’s on the receiving end.
At his Saturday press conference, Zimmer said that pass protection from the running backs is going to be an emphasis because, from Peterson to Jerick McKinnon to Matt Asiata, it has been a sticking point with the coaching staff. The technique has been sloppy, the execution has been inconsistent and that will have to change quickly.
“Technique-wise, they want to make sure that they get to the right spot, they want to stay square and then they want to punch without launching forward on them,” Zimmer said. “We didn’t do a very good job yesterday in that period with the linebackers, so we’re going to get some more of it tonight. We’ve got some work to do with those guys. It’s like all positions. It’s positioning, it’s making sure that we put a target on them, we shot our hands and be physical with them.”
Peterson understands that he needs to sharpen his own pas pro technique because the new franchise player is QB Teddy Bridgewater and he needs to be protected at all costs, even if it means bending the rules a little bit to make sure the mission on that given play is accomplished.
Peterson is mindful of what he has to do to improve his technique because a lot depends on him getting his job done to keep blitzers off of Bridgewater.
“Keeping your shoulders square and not opening a window for him to cross your face to get in (the backfield),” Peterson said. “By all means, even if you’ve got to trip him, making sure he stays away from Teddy.”
Peterson loves playing football and carrying an offense on his shoulders. Typically, that doesn’t involve pass protection. But it is necessary evil for a running back protecting his quarterback on pass plays.
It isn’t a job he loves, but he knows that it is part of his job description and, like everything else, he wants to do that at a high level as well.
“Do I like it? No,” Peterson said. “But I’ve been out of football for a year. I feel like it’s something that is going to be important for me to get back out there. We have a great group of linebackers, so going against those guys in pass pro one-on-ones is going to good for the group and for me to get back in the groove.”
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