One of the preseason favorites to win the NFL Rookie of the Year admitted to being nervous in his first preseason action.
"Oh yeah, definitely I was nervous, this being my first game," said rookie running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings' seventh-overall draft pick. "Just to go out there, my dreams of being in the NFL, leading up to the first snap I was kind of nervous, but once I got going, a couple plays after that, I kind of loosened up a little bit."
Peterson's mother was in the crowd, but she didn't get to see her son break off any long runs like he became accustomed to doing at Oklahoma. However, that might not have been Peterson's fault. The Vikings' longest rushes of the game came from their quarterbacks during scrambles and bootlegs. Starter Tarvaris Jackson had a 17-yard run and third-string QB Tyler Thipgen had a 12-yarder.
However, Peterson did have the long run for the running backs, but that was only a 7-yard rush. He led the team with 11 rushes for 33 yards – almost half of the team's 23 rushes and more than one-third of the total rushing yards (87).
Peterson said he still needs to adjust to the speed of the NFL game.
"I have definitely got to adjust to the speed," he said. "Those gaps, they are just like just like that (snaps his fingers) – they will be there, and then they are closed. So once I get that down and start to pick it up a notch, I think everything follows over."
While Peterson's speed is expected to be an asset to the Vikings' running game, he didn't have the opportunity to turn the corner around the edge. Still, running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, a former NFL running back himself, was happy with Peterson's decisiveness, according to the player.
"(Bieniemy) definitely told me he liked the speed I played with and to just keep it up," Peterson said.
Linebacker Ben Leber said things were clicking early for the defensive line and linebackers.
"Schematically, everything worked out perfect," said Leber, who especially seemed to revel in Dontarrious Thomas' 82-yard interception return for a touchdown. "The blitz was open. We had a good hit on the quarterback with Heath (Farwell) and it was thrown right in the direction it was supposed to be. Dontarrious, I thought his hamstring was going to lock up on him. He started pulling away from some people. He did a great job tonight."
Thomas, who kept the game ball, was quick to credit Farwell's blitzing ability as well on his big play.
"(QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) didn't make a mistake – the mistake was made by Heath Farwell. Heath Farwell came down in there and did a great job in pressuring him into a bad throw, and, like I said, I was in the right place at the right time and I was able to make the play," Thomas said.
WILLIAMSON GAINING CONFIDENCE
Troy Williamson had shown flashes of improved receiving ability in training camp, but he had also dropped some passes in camp as well. In his first preseason action, he was flawless in catching passes he should.
"It boosted me up just a little bit more," said Williamson, who caught three passes for 32 yards. "We have got to keep on going. It's not there where I want to be yet, but the more and more I keep doing, the better I'll be."
Fellow receiver Bobby Wade said Williamson has been taking the challenge to prove him worthy of a first-round draft choice head-on.
"He has been more than excited at the fact that there are some things he needed to work on. That is a challenge to him … he is facing it like a man," Wade said. "He is ready to play, coming out to fight and just working hard. Between me and him and the veterans, guys that are being leaders to the younger players, that is all we need to ask of him."
NOT PACING HIMSELF
Defensive end Ray Edwards has been one of the positive stories of training camp. The second-year pro is getting an opportunity to start at right defensive end with former first-round pick Erasmus James still on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
So far, so good for Edwards, who believes he won the short battle between himself and Rams Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace.
"I think I did. Because it was a great battle, gave him a couple of speed rushes. He was sitting back kind of soft, so I tried to pry him a little bit, but that is a big guy – I got him to hold me so that was good," Edwards said.
Edwards did bring out two holding calls on the Rams offensive line, but both of those were at the hands of first-year pro Drew Strojny. While Edwards didn't register a sack, he did create pressure several times.
Farwell, LB Vinny Ciurciu and DE Brian Robison ended up with one sack each.
WORK TO DO
Childress mentioned his disappointment with a lack of execution in the red zone, which left the first-team offense without any touchdowns, but special teams was the area he singled out as needing work this week in training camp.
"I thought our kickers need to improve," Childress said. "A couple of those punts we were calling for a different spot than the ball was punted, and that impacts how the coverage team is approaching the football, so we need to place that ball better. And Ryan (Longwell) would be the first one to tell you he needs to nail that field goal at the end of the game."
Longwell missed a 42-yard field goal wide left in the fourth quarter after having a very steady training camp.
Punter Chris Kluwe averaged 41.8 yards on four punts with one touchback, and one punt he got inside the 20-yard line. Rookie punter Alex Reyes averaged 40.5 yards on two punts – one that he was able to get out of bounds at the 7-yard line.
OUT OF ACTION
The Vikings held FB Tony Richardson out of action, and Steve Hutchinson was excused to attend to family business. DE Jayme Mitchell has an eye injury and did not play.
Safety Mike Doss suffered a mild concussion, and LB Rufus Alexander is believed to have incurred a sprained knee, according to Childress. He will get an MRI Saturday morning.
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