Notebook: The highs and lows of Peterson

Adrian Peterson only played two series, but that provided a number of opportunities to watch the highs and lows of his game in anticipation of an interesting season. Plus, notes on a shuffling offensive line, players who sat and those trying to earn regular-season roles.

Adrian Peterson played only two series at the start of the Vikings' 15-10 loss to San Francisco, but the Vikings were intent on getting him some extended work. It turned out to be a mixed bag.

He jump-started the offense with a 13-yard gain on the first play from a scrimmage, a swing pass from Brett Favre, but his next two plays gave back all 13 yards. On the second play from scrimmage, Peterson tried to show the patience that position coach Eric Bieniemy preaches and was dropped for a 3-yard loss when both Jon Cooper and Phil Loadholt were beaten.

On the next play, Patrick Willis came on a blitz. Peterson got an initial chuck on Willis, but the Pro Bowl linebacker bounced off it and got to Favre for a 10-yard sack.

The biggest positive, however, might have been Peterson's obvious attention to securing the ball in traffic. After leading all non-quarterbacks last year with seven fumbles and six lost, Peterson's focus came to the forefront the first time he touched the ball Sunday night. At the end of his 13-yard gain, he was stood up by a defender and Willis came into the play with the clear intention of trying to free the ball from Peterson. Willis raked at it multiple times, but it never appeared close to coming loose from Peterson's grasp.

On a few other occasions, Peterson could be seen covering the ball has he entered traffic and initiated contact. While his numbers weren't eye-popping in limited work, he did look to be working on his weaknesses.

WHO'S LINE IS IT?

The Vikings shuffled the deck early and often at center, leaving a number of players to get time in the pivot.

Jon Cooper started the game for John Sullivan, who missed the preseason opener as well with a calf injury. Sullivan is expected to return to practice on Tuesday, according to Childress.

But on the second series, the Vikings used Anthony Herrera at center and Chris DeGeare at Herrera's normal spot at right guard. It turned out to be the team's most extensive drive, going 12 plays and taking six minutes, 40 seconds.

Cooper returned for the third series, a drive that lasted three plays and less than a minute.

Ryan Cook also saw time at center later in the game.

THE NON-PLAYERS

On the field, Favre played only one series, which was more than some Vikings could say.

WR Percy Harvin, DT Pat Williams, C John Sullivan, LB J Leman and CB DeAndre Wright didn't play at all. Neither did WR Sidney Rice and CB Cedric Griffin, both of whom remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Greg Lewis started in place of Rice/Harvin, Cooper started in place of Sullivan (calf), and Jimmy Kennedy started for Williams.

As expected, E.J. Henderson got his first start of the preseason in his road back from a fractured femur suffered Dec. 6, and Asher Allen got the start at right cornerback. Henderson finished with a team-leading seven tackles.

Safety Jamarca Sanford was also a surprise starter in place of Tyrell Johnson, who saw significant action in the second half. Johnson finished with two tackles on defense, in addition to a bone-jarring hit on tight end Nate Byham that caused on incompletion. Sanford finished with one tackle on defense and one on special teams.

The 49ers also held out several key players, including WR Michael Crabtree, RBs Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook, TE Vernon Davis and backup QB David Carr.

YOUNG THIRD-DOWN BACK

Running back Albert Young got some opportunities to show what he can do as a third-down back, but he wasn't targeted as a pass receiver out of the backfield, although he did get two carries for 11 yards.

Young may have made a bigger impact as a kick returner, where he looked sharp filling in for Pro Bowler Percy Harvin. He averaged 25.3 yards on three returns and his average would have been better had a 46-yard return not been cut 11 yards short of that because of a holding call.

Toby Gerhart got a more extensive look in the offensive backfield, catching two passes for 11 yards and rushing four times for 10 yards.

BRANDON JONES SIGNS

According to ESPN, the Seattle Seahawks agreed to a contract with WR Brandon Jones, who worked out for the Vikings on Friday.

Jones played eight games for the 49ers last year and caught only one pass for 18 yards. He was released by the 49ers on Wednesday.


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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