Who would have thought that a Dirty Bird that helped ruin the Vikings' Super Bowl aspirations in 1998 would have been helping them in their Super Bowl aspirations a dirty dozen years later?
For years, Vikings running backs coach Eric Bieniemy has been talking to Peterson about patience as a ball carrier. He wants the quick-twitching Peterson to give his blockers time to create a hole and then burst through the opening. It's been an ongoing theme between the position coach and player, and Peterson has been saying for at least a year that he knows he needs to do that.
Now, however, he believes it even more, thanks to former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson, who played eight years (1994-2001) for the Falcons. Anderson's best season was in 1998, when he rushed for 1,846 yards and 14 touchdowns as the Falcons beat the Vikings in overtime of the 1998 NFC Championship Game.
Now a chance meeting between Anderson and Peterson earlier this year could be the key to improving Peterson's patience.
"It's something that I've been talking about for three years, but I finally get it now. I finally get it now," Peterson said.
"I was out in Atlanta this last offseason and I ran into Jamal Anderson. We were in a nightclub down there and he walked up to me and he was like, ‘Adrian, man, just listen to me. I didn't realize it until now that I'm out of the league, but just make sure that you really be patient. Make sure you really be slow, then fast through.'"
That sounds like something straight from the mouth of Bieniemy, who was also a former NFL running back with the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers. Maybe the words coming from Anderson will make a difference.
"When he said that, it was like confirmation that it was something that I've been talking about, something coaches have been harping on me about for a long time, so hearing it from a guy that played in the league and that did well, was a productive back, it really kind of stuck on me," Peterson said. "It's something that I had the opportunity when I got back here and got in pads, to really get into the groove of."
Peterson didn't get much of an opportunity to put that into practice during the preseason. He got 17 carries and averaged only 3.2 yards, but he said a 24-yard rush against the Seattle Seahawks a week ago was the product of patience.
The Vikings' overtime loss in the NFC Championship Game also seems to have Peterson more focused.
"Coming off the loss in the NFC Championship Game, it opened your eyes to a totally different world. This offseason, I really got some good work in and prepared myself to be able to help my team in any way I can. I'm prepared and I'm motivated to get that championship," he said.
Peterson also talks about reaching the 2,000-yard rushing mark and has been asked repeatedly about Titans running back Chris Johnson accomplishing that.
"We're on two different teams with two different situations," Peterson said. "Motivation seeing him get 2,000 yards? I look at him like, hey, it's time for me to get it now. Motivation? A little bit, but it's not something that I sit back and hound myself about.
"It will come. It will come. I don't sit there and think about it. I know our offense has so many different weapons so the ball is going to be moved around to different guys. I can't waste time focusing in on 2,000 yards, 2,000 yards. I just set my goal and go out and perform my best. If it comes, it'll come."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Peterson takes Dirty Bird advice to heart
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