Three weeks into the 2015 regular season and everything seems to have settled down after the turmoil surrounding the team during this past offseason. The Minnesota Vikings are riding a two-game winning streak after two dominating performances and running back Adrian Peterson once again is the workhorse of the team, recording 49 carries for 260 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks.
With the way this season has started, it is almost hard to believe that there was a point where some believed Peterson would not be playing for the Vikings. His agent wanted the Vikings to either trade or release the running back, but the Vikings never gave waivered.
Plenty of people credit the relationship Peterson has with head coach Mike Zimmer as the reason the future Hall of Famer decided to return to the team early, and rightfully so. Those two have a lot of respect for one another.
But another relationship that Peterson has which did not get as much spotlight as the one he has with Zimmer is the one he has with linebacker Chad Greenway.
“Chad is a guy that’s been here since I’ve been here,” Peterson said. “We’ve been through ups and downs together. We have this weird connection that I can’t even explain.”
The relationship between the running back and linebacker is something that has proven useful to the Vikings organization even since Peterson returned to the team in May. The Vikings have a lot of young players on the team that have been watching Peterson play long before they joined the team and they all have an immense amount of respect for him.
The issue that creates, however, is most players have a hard time saying anything negative to Peterson about the way he is playing. And the coaching staff has not been working with him all that long, so they have a hard time judging his performance off anything else in the past.
That’s where Greenway comes in. Greenway was drafted the year before Peterson was and the two have been teammates for nine years. For that reason, Greenway feels comfortable saying anything to Peterson, and the running back will always listen to what he has to say.
“I was kind of busting on him the first couple, really through training camp, especially because he wasn’t taking any contact in training camp. Somebody has to give the guy heck,” Greenway joked. “He obviously has unbelievable ability and being his teammate for all nine of his years, we have a sort of relationship that you can’t buy. He’s been here for nine and been teammates for nine. I just think that when he looks to me he wants an honest assessment of what he’s doing and how he’s doing. I try to be honest with him and I just thought he didn’t look like himself yet. I thought he needed to get his legs under him.”
That was Greenway’s assessment of Peterson during the first two regular season games. After missing almost the entire season in 2014, one could expect that it could take Peterson some time to get back to the running back he normally is on the field, but it seemed as though what Greenway had to tell him worked, as he felt he saw a new Peterson – or more so the old Peterson – out on the field last Sunday.
“I thought this week in practice was the first time it looked like the Adrian that I remembered,” Greenway said. “I kept saying he was getting old and close to 30, or 30 by now, I can’t remember. I just try to stay on him just to keep him working, keep him driving. He’s a guy that’s obviously going to work and he wants to get back to where he was. I think it probably took a little bit of time, but a couple of the runs he made (Sunday) looked pretty impressive to me and the things he was doing. I think he’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable out there.”
Peterson himself also admitted that he did not feel quite right after the team’s Week 2 win over the Detroit Lions, even though he ran for more than 100 yards. But after the preparation he has been putting in, he believes everything may be back to normal.
“My legs felt lighter today and just the preparation throughout the week helped with that, but I felt good,” Peterson said after their Week 3 win. “The body felt good. My mind was in a great place, and yeah, I think I’m back.”
Whether it was extra wind sprints Peterson ran last week on what was supposed to be a day off, or whether it was Greenway’s tweaking of the longtime teammate, in the eyes of the Vikings, whatever works to get Peterson back to the old Peterson is a good thing.