Vikings won't change Peterson's style

The Vikings are working on measures to reduce the number of fumbles Adrian Peterson has, but they continue to say they don't want to alter his style. He's made a productive few years of running hard and they aren't inclined to change that part of his game.

Typically minicamps are a chance for players to begin shaking off the rust of an offseason, implement some news plays into the playbook and work on things that went wrong last year. Among the most troubling things last year was the fumbling penchant of Adrian Peterson. Unfortunately, Peterson wasn't around to work on it.

Peterson was scheduled to be part of the mandatory minicamp, but the dates conflicted with the annual Adrian Peterson Day in his hometown of Palestine, Texas. Head coach Brad Childress made some headlines Friday by appearing miffed that Peterson wasn't at the camp, pointing out that veterans (except the recovering Brett Favre) were required to be there and he didn't find about it until earlier this week, not weeks or months in advance.

"I just know that there are a bunch of guys here," Childress said Friday. "This has a term ‘mandatory' for a reason and the work is here, period. You can say whatever you want. This is the fourth annual Adrian Peterson Day. I don't know if they are going to have it every year. We are going to have this (minicamp) too. I told Toby Gerhart, way before we decided on drafting him, this mini camp was on this date. I know he is going to go back and walk for his graduation. This (minicamp) is going to be here, this is where the work is at."

On Saturday, it was offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's turn in front of the microphones. He had said that one of the jobs this offseason was to do film study of Peterson's fumbles (he had seven and lost six during the regular season) to see if there was a pattern or root cause of the problem. He said the biggest issue has been that Peterson continually fights for additional yardage and ends up exposing the ball too often. Once a player gets the reputation as a fumbler, defenders are constantly trying to rip the ball loose and Peterson's aggressive running style and strength leave him more susceptible to fumbles because he never gives up and gives defenders a running shot at him because he rarely gets brought down by the first would-be tackler.

"I think the number one thing (learned in film study) is that Adrian Peterson never gives up a play," Bevell said. "And so it is important for him to know that that is his running style and that when you are not giving up plays, at the end of it when there is more than one guy on the pile there are going to be people raking at it and trying to take it away from you. So first of all, just to put it in his mind, we are not going to change the way he runs. That's how he is. But there are some things that he can do technique-wise. Some drills that you saw that Coach (Eric) Bieniemy is working on him with that we can make sure that he does a better job holding on to it."

Bevell was asked if the results of the film study will be to change Peterson's ball placement. He said that, while alterations can be made, Peterson's hard-charging style is his calling card and he isn't sure that you want to tinker with something that has worked so well for three years.

"I wouldn't say that as technique, I would just say his style overall," Bevell said. "With his style, he is going to finish every run. He is not going to step outside, he's going to run over guys, he is going to run through them. He is going to try to get them off of him. He is going to continue to scratch for every run, so that's where a lot of those fumbles were lost."

While the problems detected on film will be addressed during training camp, Bevell, like Childress, wasn't thrilled that Peterson wasn't at the weekend camp.

"Well, we could say that about any player that is not here," Bevell said. "Obviously we are just building our offense to the basics for some of these younger guys that are here. We are trying to do some things to challenge the older guys. Maybe formationally, that kind of stuff. So any guy that's missing, whether it's Adrian or anyone else, it's something that they are going to have catch up on when they get here. We would love to have every guy here, but they're not."

While Peterson may have made the day of a lot of fans who showed up in his hometown to see him, there are lingering questions as to whether he should have been at the mandatory minicamp instead. For his part, Peterson isn't talking, because he's 1,500 miles away from Winter Park.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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