Adrian Peterson is feeling good and fresh, just like the start of the season, after spending the past two weeks playing with a sore hamstring.
That could be trouble for a New Orleans Saints rush defense that is ranked 20th in the league and just lost defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis for at least two weeks with a torn meniscus.
"I feel like I'm starting to get into a rhythm. My legs are absolutely under me now 100 percent," Peterson said Friday. "The past two weeks, I've been feeling good, but I haven't been Adrian. I'm feeling real good now. My legs are feeling fresh, my body is feeling good. I expect to keep improving and make good plays for our offense."
The Saints have given up 100 yards or more of net rushing in three of their four games this season, and 140 or more two of the four weeks. Their best performance was last week against San Francisco, when they yielded 91 yards.
Peterson said he's feeling like the burst to that extra gear is returning.
"I really feel like me being out there at 90 percent, 95 percent, I can go out there and run for a comfortable speed. As far as opening up, opening up, opening up and really shifting it into another gear, I haven't been there. But I've been able to go out and get away from guys still," he said. "It hasn't really affected my game, but me being 100 percent this week and just feeling good, feeling fresh, like I did when we started the season, it's a good feeling inside."
It was in the fifth game last season that Peterson really made his presence felt on a national level when he rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns against the Chicago Bears. Three games later, he set the NFL single-game rushing record with a 296-yard performance against the San Diego Chargers.
"That's just how the games play out. You never know when you might get in that moment. You've just got to take advantage of it," he said. "You look at the Chargers defense and it was one of the best defenses in the league. I didn't imagine going in and rushing for almost 300 yards against those guys, but it can happen."
Peterson started the season with back-to-back 100-yard games (103 yards rushing against the Green Bay Packers and 160 against the Indianapolis Colts), but the past two games he has been held to 77 yards and 80 yards, respectively, against the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans.
Despite the last two games of not being "Adrian," Peterson is still only 2 yards behind NFL rushing leader Michael Turner, who has 422 yards.
IMPORTANCE OF PETERSON
With the Saints having the No. 3-ranked offense in the league, the Vikings extending drives and limiting the time that Drew Brees & Co. have the ball could be key to the Monday night game.
"We need to chew the clock, we need to establish the run," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We need to stay on the field as long as we can because the best defense is a great offense."
Having running backs Peterson and Chester Taylor on the field at the same time has only happened a few times this season, and Bevell said there is a reason for that.
"We're always looking for ways to get Adrian the ball. As I've always said, you have to make sure that everybody knows exactly what they're doing, be able to handle what you're throwing at them," Bevell said. "Adrian is still young in our offense, still progressing and moving along, so it's not like you can throw him at any place and expect him to know what he's going to do from all those different alignments, so we're picking and choosing the spots we want to use him in."
The Saints use Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush on the field simultaneously numerous times, but Peterson said he and Bush are different backs.
"I don't worry about other people's game and how they use other backs. I think that would be like saying, ‘Reggie, when you look at the Vikings and see how they pound Adrian up the middle, do you think you could do it like that too?' It's two different backs. We've got different games," Peterson said.
Bush has 31 receptions for 257 yards and 52 rushes for 183 yards; Peterson has 83 rushes for 420 yards and nine receptions for 52 yards.
‘All Day' 100 percent for Monday night?
Viking Update Top Stories
Vikings announce changes in coaching staffThe Minnesota Vikings officially announced a few changes to their coaching staff.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 3:35 PM
Assessing metrics for Vikings’ receiversThe Minnesota Vikings have some big decisions to make with their receivers not named Stefon Diggs. We look at playing time, metrics and grades from 2016 to help you assess their…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 6:48 AM
Podcast: Who do you want among free agents?Viking Update publisher Tim Yotter and Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan break down the Minnesota Vikings’ free-agent decisions and talk about the conference championship weekend.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 4:18 AM
Peterson discusses non-Vikings optionsAdrian Peterson appeared on ESPN's First Take Thursday and got caught up in a discussion of teams he may be interested in playing for if things don't work out with the Minnesota…
Viking UpdateThursday at 12:01 PM
Vikings’ odds to win Super Bowl LIIThe odds are out for Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium a year from now. The Vikings aren't one of the favorites, but they are getting respect from oddsmakers.
Viking UpdateThursday at 7:12 AM