Did Peterson Hit the Rookie Wall?

In the moment, most rookies deny it, but the reality is that it's a big transition from the college game to the NFL. And most rookies, including Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson, do in fact hit that rookie wall.

Through the first 13 weeks of the year, Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson averaged 6.5 yards per carry.  But over the last four weeks, he averaged just 2.6.

What happened?

“You have to understand he played the most football he ever has played,” running backs coach Eric Bienemy told the ChicagoTribune.com.  “It's human nature as a rookie to hit a mental wall.  He never, ever would admit it, but it’s human nature.  I remember it as a player.  You just get tired.”

Peterson was also coming back from a sprained MCL, wearing a bulky brace, and the fact that he wasn’t going to sneak up on anyone anymore after his earlier season record-setting performances.  Opposing defenses clearly vowed that if they were going to get beat it was going to be by the Vikings passing game, not Adrian Peterson.

Bienemy in play?

It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if new UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel makes a run at Bienemy, who left the Bruins after the 2005 season.

Neuheisel has a connection to Bienemy through his Colorado years, and Bienemy was a superb recruiter when he was with UCLA before.

That said, he’s in the NFL and coaching Adrian Peterson.  Going back to college would seem to be a step backwards for Bienemy, who would seem to have found his niche as a coach with the Vikings.

Is Jackson still the guy?

In a word, we think, “yes.”

The comments by head coach Brad Childress have been interpreted differently depending on the headline you read:

“Childress isn’t sold on Jackson as the Minnesota Vikings quarterback”
“Jackson doesn’t get strong commitment”
“Jackson doesn’t get firm endorsement from Coach”
“Jackson to stay as Vikings starter”
“Jackson likely to be QB in 2008”

At his post-season press conference, Childress said:  “I was able to talk to Tarvaris this morning and have a great eye-to-eye with him.  Kevin (Rogers) spoke with him yesterday.  I thought he just continued to make progress as we went through, and hopefully that's a things-to-come picture of what you saw there (at Denver) in the last five minutes playing wide open and cutting loose with it and making plays with his arm and his feet.”

When asked about teammates having confidence in Jackson, Childress replied:  “Well, confidence is everything at the quarterback position.  We say all of the time, ‘don't lose confidence or it will be unanimous.’  It pertains to what you do as well as what he does.  Yeah, confidence is a huge part of this thing.”

The one comment that Childress made that folks seemed to latch onto was his statement that, “this is a fluid situation.  I’ll keep you educated but I may not always be completely forthcoming.”

That phrase “fluid situation” and the next sentence signal serious evaluation and the acquisition of another player.  But it needs to be noted that Childress’ answer was in response to a question about the return of Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger, not regarding Jackson.

Childress “anticipates” both Holcomb and Bollinger returning.  But the likelihood of bringing in another veteran sounds strong.  But Childress did not, and virtually promised he would not, specifically say so.

The other buzzword from Chilly’s press conference was when he was asked if he was “comfortable heading into 2008 with Jackson as his starter.”  His reply that, “I don’t know that it’s ever good to get comfortable” was a reaction to the word comfortable.  All Childress is saying is that he doesn’t want anyone thinking they can rest on their laurels; not Jackson, not his coaches, none of his players.

Childress concluded by saying, “I saw progress from him, positive progress from him.  He, as I mentioned to you as everybody does, has a lot of things that they collectively and individually need to improve on.  So we'll just see if those things come to fruition as we keep moving.”

It seems apparent that he fully expects Jackson to continue developing and he has likely looked his young quarterback in they eye and assured him that he will continue to put him in a position to do so.  However, it seems very reasonable that the coach would like a fallback option with more upside potential than that of Holcomb or Bollinger.

Mills to be honorary captain

Vikings tight end Garrett Mills is scheduled to attend Sunday night’s GMAC Bowl as Tulsa’s honorary captain as his former alma mater faces Bowling Green.

Mills was an All-American in 2005 as he helped lead the Golden Hurricane to the Conference USA championship and a victory in the Liberty Bowl.

He was picked by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft and found a home this year with the Vikings.  He saw his first action of the year in the regular-season finale Sunday against Denver, catching two passes for 26 yards.

“(Playing) was a dream come true,” Mills said.  “I'd been preparing for that moment for two years ... and to get back on the playing field was an awesome moment for me.”

Job opening?

Jim Rueda, of the Mankato Free Press, tells the following story about Vikings owner Zygi Wilf:

A man applied to the Minnesota Vikings for a job on the administrative staff.

“What we’re really looking for here,” said team owner Zygi Wilf, “is what you might call a head worrier.  Someone to worry about things like how to increase attendance, improve revenue, league promotions, drunken fans, and so on.  For a job that like we’d be prepared to pay $500,000 a year.”

“Are you interested?”

“Certainly,” said the applicant.  “But, you’ll excuse me saying this, where in the world are the Vikings going to find that kind of money for a job like this?”

“Ah!” said Wilf.  “That would be your first worry.”

Extra Points

David Haugh, of the Chicago Tribune, reports the Chicago Bears could use the franchise tag on WR Bernard Berrian, who is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason.  If not, Berrian could indeed be a target during free agency by the Vikings.

Without question, the Vikings kept three good players that likely would have received offers elsewhere when they re-signed Pat Williams, Chris Kluwe and Anthony Herrera earlier this season.

The word in Pittsburgh is that Mike Tomlin would like to add Vikings defensive backs coach Joe Woods to his staff, so the team might not yet be out of the woods (no pun intended) on retaining him.

Other stories:

>Childress, coaches did outstanding job
>Mock draft projects Cal receiver to Vikings

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