Lurtsema's Reaction: Back in Business

Like many fans, Bob Lurtsema was frustrated with the direction of the team recently, but after the selection of Adrian Peterson he's excited for the possibilities once again and back on the bandwagon. See what Lurtsema likes about the pick from the perspective of a former NFL defensive lineman.

VU: Was there even anyone else at No. 7 you would have considered or was Adrian Peterson just too obvious a choice?

BL: Peterson, without a doubt, was the most obvious choice on the board. I don't know why they took more than 12 seconds to come out with him. Brad Childress knows a lot about Tarvaris Jackson—that's his project—so you know Brady Quinn wasn't going to be drafted. I understand that, and I'll be watching the development of Jackson. So when Peterson came up, it was a no-brainer to take. And by the way, for all the fans out there, I have taken the cast off my leg. When I jumped off the bandwagon, I broke it, but the cast is off and I'm back on the bandwagon. That's how much I actually like Peterson.

VU: What about the injury concerns? He missed time each of his three years at Oklahoma, but on the flip side other people say they are not the type of injuries that are supposed to be recurring. So what's your take on that?

BL: That's really a coin flip. If you look at me, I missed two days of practice in 12 years in the NFL, but my senior year in college I missed the first three games with a freak knee injury. Part of it, you have to be a little bit lucky. But a running back, the average career expectancy is less than three years. Some people aren't durable and you hope he is durable. I know Bud Grant would go with durability too. There were a lot of better athletes that he cut in place of myself, but my whole career I was always durable. That comes into play. I'd be a little concerned about it, but then you say, ‘OK, there's a negative' and then you start reading the positives about Adrian—his work ethic, his attitude, totally a team player—that is such a breath of fresh air. Bring back the old-school days. He's in the mold that we would have just loved to have him on our team.

VU: How do you think everything is going to shake down with the carries between him and Chester Taylor? Do you think we'll see him and Chester together in the same backfield?

BL: As a defensive lineman, this is my perspective: When they come out in a split backfield and they have two runners that can go 90 yards at any time, that really puts you in a less aggressive approach from the line play. You can't get out of your hole too quick to assist your teammates with the tackle. You've got to be sure and stay home. Don't get out of there too quick, because either one of them can cut back and make a great move. When you have a fullback in there, you're a little stronger and can take the lead blocker on (as a defensive lineman). From that I-formation, you take the lead blocker on and everything seems to work itself out. Whenever we had two great backs, a speed back in the backfield at the same time, it puts a lot of heat on a defense, not only the linemen but those who are anticipating a coverage. Peterson did a lot of work at the combine to show scouts that he's got great hands and he can catch the football. Now you're putting a little more heat on the outside linebackers and the linemen have to be a little more conservative, it's going to open up a lot of things on offense—much more than what the average fan realizes.

VU: Physically, what do you like about him best? What stands out when you watch the highlights of him?

BL: I like the combination of his power and his speed. They say he runs too high, but some people have a God-given talent to run low and some have a God-given talent to run high. I just think he's got power and the speed to really be deceptive and give himself the two options when he breaks the line of scrimmage and he's catching those linebackers and defensive backs. He can either run over them or make the quick move. Once again, from the defensive mentality, you look at that and you think, ‘Now, which way do you approach him? Do you become more aggressive with him? Do you go lower or do you try to buy time.' So having that combination of running style and being strong enough and outweighing these defensive backs, it puts a lot of pressure on the opposing teams.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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