When the Vikings were evaluating players to be selected with the seventh pick of the NFL draft, they wanted difference-makers. They got exactly that in running back Adrian Peterson, who energized the draft party crowd at Winter Park.
His journey to Minnesota was far from a certainty. While the Vikings had him rated highly on their draft board, they knew there were teams in front of them that had their sights on Peterson – and Peterson knew that the Vikings wanted him but would have to wait until other potential suitors made their selections.
"I had an idea that they were interested in me," Peterson said. "I thought I might go at (Number) 3 (to Cleveland), (Number) 5 (to Arizona) or at (Number) 7 (to the Vikings)."
One of the primary concerns that some teams might have had is Peterson's injury history. He has missed time in each of his three college seasons due to injury and, in the days leading up to the draft, there was wild speculation concerning the severity of his collarbone injury. Mid-week, Sports Illustrated's Peter King said that Peterson might have to have a titanium rod implanted to stabilize the collarbone – which would almost certainly end or curtail his rookie season. But Peterson put those fears to rest immediately, saying he expects to be ready for next week's minicamp.
"No surgery is needed," Peterson said. "It can heal by itself. I'm just so anxious to get it started."
While Peterson was a bell cow at Oklahoma, his role with the Vikings isn't yet defined. He's expected to start as a backup to Chester Taylor, much in the same way running backs like Reggie Bush and Laurence Maroney were implemented into the Saints and Patriots lineup, respectively, last season. According to Peterson, any arrangement is fine with him."
"It's a team," Peterson said. "Whatever the team has to do is good. If that's a two-running back tandem, I'm all for that. It's all about what's good for the team. Whatever it is, I'm down with that."
The decision to bring Peterson to the Vikings sent the signal that the team is planning on running the ball considerably and earning the megabucks that the left side of the offensive line – Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie – are being paid. The prospect of running behind two All-Pros and a third that had been said to be near that level is a welcome challenge to Peterson.
"It feels good to know that I'm going to a situation where you have a line that will go out and get it done running the ball," Peterson said. "That's always music to a running back's ears."
Although he was rarely used in the passing game at OU, Peterson said he's looking forward to adding receptions to his offensive arsenal. He will be refining his game to the pro level under assistant coach Eric Bienemy, who at the time Peterson was coming out of high school, recruited him intensely.
One of Bienemy's primary duties will be to prepare Peterson for the pounding he will take in the NFL. One of his primary drawbacks, according to scouts, was that runs too upright and opens himself to big hits. But one of the players he has been compared to had a similar running style and things worked out fine for him.
"People had the (same) knock on Eric Dickerson – that he ran too upright," Peterson said. "He's one of the greatest running backs of all time. You can always improve. I'm working on getting my shoulders lower when I'm in traffic. I've been running this way since I was seven."
The Vikings hope Peterson's injury history will become something of the past, but if not for those injuries, Peterson almost assuredly wouldn't have been a Viking. Perhaps the Vikings got fortunate that his injury history was a question mark for teams like the Browns and Cardinals in front of them in the draft order.
"I felt I would have gone somewhere in the top three, maybe No. 1 (if not for the injury)," Peterson said. "But everything happens for a reason and I'm just going to continue to take everything in stride and make the most of it."
Who would have thought a first-round Viking with an injury history could actually be viewed as a positive?
Peterson Reacts to Criticisms
Viking Update Top Stories
When good rumors go badAt his Wednesday press conference, Seattle coach Pete Carroll answered a question pertaining to the health issues the Seahawks are having at offensive tackle and, as part of his…
Viking Update4:53 AM
Harrison Smith: No reason for changeThe Minnesota Vikings’ perfect season hit a brick wall Sunday at Philadelphia, but safety Harrison Smith said the panic on the outside of Winter Park isn't being shared on the…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 2:44 PM
Munnerlyn likes Cutler’s risk-taking waysCaptain Munnerlyn likened Jay Cutler to Brett Favre, calling him a “gunslinger,” but Cutler was at his best when he conformed last year.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 7:32 AM
Did Vikings have bounty system?In a new book released recently, the claim is made that the Minnesota Vikings had a bounty system in place at the same time the Saints were eventually swept up in the Bountygate…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 7:25 AM
Fusco: O-line problems correctableAs players and coaches watched film of Sunday's loss to Philadelphia, more than a few them got an uneasy feeling. Not because the Eagles dominated them as much as it appeared, but…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 4:15 AM