Vikings coach Brad Childress was seeking advice from Giants coach Tom Coughlin Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it had nothing to do with prospect evaluation.
Instead, Childress said he would consider talking to Coughlin about the success he had in changing the running style of former Giants running back Tiki Barber, who had issues with fumbling early in his career, just like the Vikings' Adrian Peterson.
The problem, however, is that Coughlin may not be that willing to oblige. Competitive advantage is a powerful deterrent in the NFL.
At one point Friday, Childress said he might consider using Barber as a resource, but later he said Coughlin might be the more logical resource.
"I don't know that I'd use Tiki. I'd probably use Tom more as a resource," Childress said. "The guy with a part in it would be (Vikings running backs coach) Eric Bieniemy. In my mind, he's as good of a running back coach as there is in the National Football League. I feel like he's the best, hands down, bar none. That would be the guy that would end up implementing that, whatever it is we decide needs to be implemented. It may be nothing. It may just be a mental process."
At this point, the Vikings haven't decided on any plan of attack to help decreased the number of fumbles Peterson had in 2009 – he was credited with two of them in the NFC Championship Game and was involved in botched exchange with Brett Favre on another fumble. During the regular season, Peterson had seven fumbles, a league high among running backs, and lost six of them.
So far, the Vikings coaches have had some time off and started in on player evaluations. Formulating a plan for Peterson hasn't been executed yet.
"It's still part of our offseason study. We know that there's been a lot said. I'm not going to discourage that guy from running the ball with the style that he runs the football with," Childress said. "I'm not attempting to take his spirit or take his heart or any of those things. It's easy to compare him to Walter Payton, who fumbled once every 22½ times he carried the football in his first three years, whereas an Adrian is a once every 44½ times. I know we're living in 2010 right now and we're just off a heartbreaking fumble here or there during the season. He's a good enough athlete and we're good enough coaches that we'll look at him and do what we can to rectify it. Usually when he sets his mind to something, he's pretty good at taking care of that business."
So would Coughlin help the Vikings' business by disclosing the tips he gave to Barber?
"I can't give away those secrets," Coughlin said with a smile.
However, he and Childress did talk briefly on Friday, but Coughlin indicated that giving tips to another NFC team might not be wise.
But the fact of the matter is that there might not be too much to the "secret." Once Barber started carrying the ball higher against his chest, his fumbling issues faded into the Big Blue background.
"High and tight, right. That's how you do it. These things are logged away, secret. It's under lock and key," Coughlin joked.
Of course, Peterson's production has been all over the board.
"It's really different (in) different weeks with Adrian," Childress said. "He's certainly fully capable of carrying the load, which he did in the first couple of years – 25 toward 30 carries and had done it in college. He's ably manned in any role we ask him to do. He's a bright-eyed guy and a great work as well."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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