Vikings look to emphasize Peterson

The Vikings have gotten away from Adrian Peterson at times, but everyone seems to know that the offense still should go through him.

Brett Favre and coach Brad Childress might not be on the same page about how the Vikings offense should run all of the time, but the quarterback does seem to agree with one point that has been hammered home of late.

If the Vikings are to end their December malaise — they had lost two of three entering Monday night's game in Chicago — Adrian Peterson is going to need to get the ball more often.

The Pro Bowl running back went into Monday with a career-high stretch of five games without a 100-yard rushing effort. The offensive line had its troubles in prime-time losses at Arizona and Carolina this month, but the Vikings also seem to have lost some of their identity as a run-first team.

Certainly some of this has to do with Favre's ability to throw the football — Childress and Favre seem to have differing views on how much the quarterback should be checking from runs to passes. There is no question the veteran has had a positive impact on the franchise in his first season in Minnesota. The Vikings wrapped up the NFC North title in Week 15.

But Peterson led the NFL in rushing last season and is the player that this offense needs to revolve around if it's going to be consistently successful.

"I know our offense starts with Adrian Peterson and that's where it ends," Favre said. "We have to get that back on track."

Peterson isn't about to demand the ball and it's not as if he's having a poor season. Peterson was fourth in the NFL in rushing entering Week 16 with 1,235 yards and was tied with Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew for the league lead with 15 rushing touchdowns.

"I don't know. I really can't say that," Peterson said when asked about how he was being used. "You can look at certain games where I might feel that maybe the run game should be emphasized more. You look at some games where you can say the same for the pass. That's pretty much how I look at it."

The fact Peterson had a season-low 12 carries for 35 yards in a 26-7 loss at Carolina was a definite concern and something the Vikings wanted to change at Chicago and in their regular-season finale against the New York Giants at the Metrodome.

"We've stood up here many times and said, ‘That's what we are, we're a running team,'" offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We all kind of joked about, ‘Hey, there's nine, there's 10 guys up in the box and you're still running it. You're still getting positive yards.' We need to get back to that."

LINEUP WATCH: Strong safety Tyrell Johnson, a second-round pick in 2008 in his first season as a full-time starter, struggled in the Vikings' loss at Carolina in Week 15 but continues to hold the job. Rookie Jamarca Sanford played well in place of Johnson in Week 14; Johnson missed that game because of a concussion. However, it's clear the coaching staff wants to give Johnson a chance to hold onto the job.

BY THE NUMBERS: 13 — Vikings' victories at the Metrodome over the past 15 games.

NOTES

  • WR Bernard Berrian was finally able to come off the injury report last week after being bothered by injuries to both hamstrings for much of the season. Berrian is usually known for his speed but that aspect of his game has been seriously impacted.

  • WR Percy Harvin, who missed the Vikings' victory over Cincinnati in Week 14 because of issues with migraine headaches, visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., last week and the team now appears to be confident it has a plan in place to deal with the rookie's painful headaches.

  • LG Steve Hutchinson moved into sole possession of fourth place in Vikings history for the most consecutive starts (63) by a guard when he started against Chicago on Monday.

  • DE Brian Robison, a valuable backup who can play both end and tackle in passing situations, was slowed by a quadriceps injury that he suffered in Week 15 at Carolina. It was uncertain how serious the injury was but much of Robison's game is based on speed.

  • DT Pat Williams showed up on the injury report with an elbow issue but it wasn't believed to be anything serious. The veteran actually has been playing better as the season has progressed in part because he's recovered from minor offseason surgery on his knee.


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