All of those questions were answered last year, as Peterson instantly became the best running back the Vikings have had since the end of the Robert Smith era and the most dominant since the heyday of Chuck Foreman. He almost single-handedly transformed the Vikings into the most effective running game in the league, as the Vikes averaged more than five yards a carry most of the season.
Not only did A.D. bring the explosive dimension to the offense, he made Chester Taylor a better running back as a result. In his first season as a Viking, Taylor often looked tentative hitting the hole. There were times last year when fans seeing Taylor taking a handoff with authority mistook him for Peterson because of the newfound speed and aggression that he brought to his own game. The Vikings now have as formidable a 1-2 punch in the running game as any team in the league.
The position is one that is in a certain element of flux, because the team allowed Mewelde Moore and fullback Tony Richardson to leave via free agency. Moore was replaced by Maurice Hicks, who can serve the role of third-down or change-of-pace back as well as giving the Vikings something in the return game, while Thomas Tapeh was tabbed as the lead blocker for both Peterson and Taylor. While Richardson's leadership will be missed – Peterson was quoted after the season as saying nobody had a more pronounced effect on his development during his rookie season that T-Rich – the young, more aggressive Tapeh will keep the level of play on the field from suffering any sort of significant drop-off.
The Vikings enter 2008 with Peterson envisioning a 2,000-yard season and the likelihood that he will achieve those goals. This has become one of the top strengths of the Vikings and should remain so this season. If the Vikings are going to regain the top spot in the NFC North, it will be thanks in part to the large contributions to the offense made by the running backs. It has been a long time since the Vikings have been this dominant on the ground and it has become the shining star of the team's offense.