Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has had a rough time running in recent weeks. He ran for just 60 yards on 26 attempts, an average of 2.3 yards a carry, against the Kansas City Chiefs. Take out the 75-yard run he had against the Detroit Lions and he went for 23 yards on 18 attempts.
Opponents have been using run blitzes as a way to neutralize Peterson and it had been working. Entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, Peterson was leading the league in negative runs with 22, but he only had one against the Bears. His struggles all seemed to change at Soldier Field, where he has had plenty of success in the past.
“We finally ran the football the way I expect us to run the ball,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
Peterson finished the game with 103 rushing yards on 20 attempts and his longest run was only 12 yards. That means he was picking up solid chunks nearly every time he ran the ball.
Heading into Sunday’s game, there was some speculation on what kind of role Peterson would play. He did not participate in the team’s practices on Wednesday or Thursday and was limited on Friday as he was dealing with hip, finger and ankle injuries. But the 30-year-old back was able to go at the start of the game and he looked as though he was back to his old self.
“I thought Adrian looked like Adrian,” Zimmer said. “He hit that thing downhill. I thought we had a nice scheme, I thought the offensive coaches did a nice job at that. We stayed on the blocks. We got to the second level better today, I thought, and he runs like he runs, with violence.”
Heading into the game, the Bears had the 25th-ranked run defense in the NFL, allowing 124.8 yards a game on the ground, so Peterson was not going up against one of the league’s top run-stopping units, but this game should still be a good building block for him moving forward.
Do not be surprised if he once again misses some practice time this week as the team prepares to take on the St. Louis Rams, who have the league’s 15th-ranked run defense. Peterson proved this week that he is able to play well with little practice during the week and the coaches are going to want to make sure he is as healthy as he can be.
But even though he takes a beating week in and week out, Peterson told reporters last Thursday that he expects it and is prepared for it.
“I’m built for it,” Peterson said. “I’ve been taking a lot of hits this season, but (the Detroit game) there were a couple solid hits that resonated. This is all part of just taking care of the body and letting the body rest up.”