Taylor Returns to the Spotlight

October and November weren't easy on Chester Taylor. He heard national football pundits say the Vikings were crazy for splitting time behind with him and Adrian Peterson and it appeared as though the Vikings were listening. With A.P. injured, Taylor has been given the chance to prove the critics wrong and show there is another RB option in Minnesota.

If there has been an upside to the injury to Adrian Peterson, it has been the performance of Chester Taylor. After a month in which both players were in a time-share backfield and the Vikings came under fire for keeping too many wraps on Peterson, the decision was made coming out of the bye to make A.P. the main man. As a result, Taylor was pushed back to backup duty.

When Peterson went down in the Packers game, Taylor was thrust back into the spotlight and delivered a huge game against the Raiders in the Vikings' 29-22 win. Averaging a whopping 5.6 yards a carry this season, Taylor has established himself again as a legitimate No. 1 running back – giving the Vikings plenty of options heading into the offseason.

While Taylor carries a significant contract, it isn't the kind of back-breaker that could prevent the Vikings from being able to afford keeping both him and A.P. next year and beyond, but it also gives the Vikings the flexibility to look at potentially trading Taylor for a second- or third-round pick in next April's draft if a team makes an offer to the Vikings' liking and players are on the draft board that the Vikings front office covets.

It has been a frustrating season for Taylor, who spent four years behind Jamal Lewis with the Ravens before finally getting his chance with the Vikings to be a full-time starter and, in the process, set a franchise record for rushing attempts in a season.

Whether it has been the lack of use that has resulted in fresh legs or the adrenaline of finally getting his old job back, many have commented that Taylor has a fresh bounce in his step and is running more like Peterson than he did before A.P. arrived. Taylor, however, says that he has always run with that style and hasn't tried to put too much pressure on himself after a frustrating 2007 season.

"I have had a bounce every time I've been given the chance this year," Taylor said. "I'm just trying to stay consistent. I was upset (at first), but it's part of the game. I know how it is and I dealt with it. I'm a professional. I know how to deal with that stuff."

In the process, Taylor has come closer than ever to living up to the preseason hype that Childress laid down about A.P. and Taylor being 1A and 1B in the backfield instead of starter and backup. Taylor said he will handle the workload by himself until A.P. returns and knows that his coaches and teammates have confidence he can get the job done.

"We know that (Childress) can rely on both of us to get the job done," Taylor said. "Whoever is in the game, the whole team expects us to do what we can do. We have to step up whichever one of us is in there and take care of business."

FRIDAY NOTES
* It looks as though the Vikings might not have Antoine Winfield again this week. Winfield, who has missed two of the last three games and was pulled out at halftime of the Raiders as a precaution, missed his third straight practice Friday with a hamstring injury. If Winfield can't go, Marcus McCauley will make his third start of the season.
* Adrian Peterson worked out again on a limited basis Thursday and, while Brad Childress hasn't ruled him out as of Thursday, it still looks much more likely the earliest he will return will be Dec. 2 against the Lions.
* The only other Vikings on the injury report – Tony Richardson and Eric Frampton – worked out on a limited basis Thursday.
* For the Giants, Brandon Jacobs sat out practice again Thursday with a hamstring injury and Derrick Ward, who is nursing both ankle and groin injuries, was limited. That means veteran Reuben Droughns is looking more and more like the starter for Sunday's game.
* Perhaps due to the injury to Peterson, NBC opted not to move the Vikings-Lions game into its Sunday night prime time slot Dec. 2. Instead, the network will stick with its original assigned game of the Steelers and Bengals.

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