Instead of just guessing how much Adrian Peterson has been on the field and how many carries he has gotten, the Vikings on Sunday moved to a system where they track the amount of plays Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson are getting.
As Brad Childress heard criticism directed his way about how rookie running back Adrian Peterson
was used in the Vikings' 26-13 loss to Green Bay on Sept. 30, Minnesota's coach attempted to downplay the situation publicly.
Turns out that things were quite different behind the closed doors.
Following Peterson's team-record 224-yard rushing performance in the Vikings' 34-31 victory Sunday at Chicago, Childress acknowledged the coaching staff spent time during the bye week looking to get Peterson more involved.
During the Packers loss, Peterson was on the field for 25 plays and had 12 rushes for 112 yards. Chester Taylor
was in for 42 snaps and carried eight times for 40 yards. The most surprising stat was this: After rushing for 108 yards on 10 carries in the first half, Peterson had only two second-half rushes.
Things were different against the Bears. Peterson was on the field for 34 plays and had 20 carries. Taylor was in for 36 snaps and had 22 carries for 83 yards.
After estimating the number of plays Peterson and Taylor were getting in game, the Vikings began having an assistant keep track in game on Sunday.
"We were ball-parking the first few games just between series between EB (running backs coach Eric Bieniemy) and knowing how we were going to play them and when we were going to play them," Childress said.
Childress said the Eagles employed a similar system when he was that team's offensive coordinator. That was to keep track of the touches by running backs Brian Westbrook
and Correll Buckhalter
as well as receiver Terrell Owens
Despite Peterson's performance Sunday, Childress still insists on calling him the Vikings' backup running back and isn't about to tip his hand on when the majority of the carries might start going to his young star.
"Then we would lose the element of surprise, wouldn't we?" Childress said. "It's really by virtue of keeping track of how many times he's touched it, but if it's at the end of a long run or if it's the end of a kickoff return, even though we might like to have him the next play, you still want to keep those guys fresh. That's where the fresh legs and the fresh looks give you a chance to have those explosions."
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on Tarvaris Jackson's performance against the Bears: "He did exactly what we asked him to do. The No. 1 thing that you have to do against this defense is protect the football. I don't recall it really ever being put in harm's way out there. That was the biggest bonus. He hit the throws that he needed to hit. There were still a couple you'd like to have back, but he also put a couple on them that our receivers need to come up with."
LG Steve Hutchinson was among the many impressed by RB Adrian Peterson's team-record 224-yard performance Sunday. "His talents speak for themselves," Hutchinson said. "Sometimes I was blocking, and I kind of see him kind of go behind me and the next thing I know I look and he's already 15 yards up the field. Speed kills."
Veteran S Dwight Smith talking about how the Vikings reacted when the Bears rallied with 14 points late in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 31: "That's one thing about this locker room, we never split. We always feel like somebody is going to make a play or give us a chance to be in the game. Hopefully, the luck will start changing around here. We've had opportunities through the first four games of the season that we didn't take advantage of. Today, we took advantage of the opportunities, and hopefully that will trickle down and keep going like that."
FB Naufahi Tahi suffered a sprained MCL against the Bears and will miss at least a week, according to coach Brad Childress.
LB Vinny Ciurciu is receiving treatment after suffering a high ankle sprain Sunday.
QB Tarvaris Jackson was "no worse for the wear" after starting Sunday. He had missed the previous two games because of a groin strain.
DE Erasmus James made his first appearance of the season Sunday despite having a bad shoulder. Coach Brad Childress mentioned Monday that James continues to be bothered by the injury.
OL Anthony Herrera took over for Artis Hicks as the starter at right guard, and coach Brad Childress said Herrera would remain in that role.
RB Mewelde Moore was inactive for the third time this season Sunday. That might change, however, now that FB Naufahi Tahi is out. Moore could serve as the No. 3 running back on Sunday in Dallas.
LB Ben Leber normally comes out in nickel situations. But with so many teams going to multi-receiver sets against the Vikings, coach Brad Childress said Leber and Chad Greenway would start splitting time in the nickel.