Adrian Peterson (Leon Halip/Getty)
Adrian Peterson cracked the 100-yard mark for the first time, with coaches believing he’s closer to the Peterson of old than at any point since his knee surgery.
Adrian Peterson had his first 100-yard game since knee surgery last December, but there is still a sense of relief from the coaching staff when their star running back makes a cut and returns to the huddle eager for another carry.
The Vikings are becoming more comfortable with Peteron’s workload as the season progresses. In a game where they never trailed, Minnesota used Peterson 21 times running the ball for 102 yards and continued to escalate his reps in the passing game, too, as he caught all four of the passes thrown his way for 20 yards.
“He looked more like the Adrian of old than at any point in this young season,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “He had some runs that showed the strength, the power, the elusiveness that we’ve seen in the past. It was just great to see. There was no hitch anywhere. He looked good.”
It wasn’t the heaviest workload Peterson had this season – he rushed 25 times the week before in a win against the San Francisco 49ers – but Peterson was on the field for 79 percent of the Vikings’ 46 plays.
Peterson had surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments on Dec. 30 and didn’t play at all in the preseason. However, the Vikings surprised most observers when they gave him the ball 17 times on the ground in the regular-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The following week, he had 16 carries, but the last two weeks he has surpassed the 20-carry threshold.
However, the coaching staff will likely hold its breath a little each time he makes one the sharp cuts that has made him one of the best running backs in the league since being a first-round pick of Minnesota in 2007.
“Just relieved. Every time he makes a cut and he gets back up and jogs to the huddle, just happy to see (that). You don’t ever want to take that for granted,” Frazier said. “He’s a special back, there’s no question about it. To see him run the way he ran yesterday with such authority and continue to pound late in the game, it was just good for our team.”
Peterson didn’t work the edges much against Detroit, but Frazier said that was more about what they saw in the Lions defense rather than trying to protect him from putting too much strain on his left knee trying to turn the corner outside of the tackle box.
Ten of Peterson’s 21 rushes were defined as up the middle by the NFL’s play-by-play statistics, with five directed at left tackle and four at right tackle. The only two runs he had around the end went to the right side.
“We just felt like, with this team and what they do and what we wanted to be able to do, these were the best runs and that turned out to be the case,” Frazier said. “Purely game plan.”
It turned out to be a winning game plan, and one that produced Peterson’s first 100-yard since Oct. 23, 2011.
LB Erin Henderson hasn't passed his post-concussion test yet but will return to the starting lineup when cleared. However, Frazier said the Vikings will discuss if Henderson will remain in the nickel role after his return.
“Jasper’s played pretty good. He did a good job yesterday against a high-powered passing offense,” Frazier said. “So we’ll have to take a real hard look at where he is in the passing game and where Erin would be when he comes back. So, we’ll talk about it when Erin gets back.”
WR Michael Jenkins had a rib contusion. He came out the game in the second quarter but returned later.
DE Jared Allen was dealing with cramps in the second half, but he missed only five snaps the entire game.
Not surprisingly, Frazier was pleased with the effort by his defense. “Suffocating defense throughout. That was a very good offense we faced, averaging almost 30 points per game, and to hold them to 13 points and one touchdown, and to limit Calvin Johnson – one of the best wide receivers in our game – to five catches for 50-some yards, to stuff that run game? Just a great effort all the way across the board for our defense.”
Frazier said the Vikings would send in tape of Josh Robinson’s unnecessary roughness penalty to get clarification on why he was called penalized after lifting WR Nate Burleson off the ground during a tackle.
“Seemed like a tackle – just seemed like a tackle,” Frazier said. “Now a hard tackle but it is football so we are going to get some clarification from the league.”
LB Chad Greenway said he is expecting a fine for his helmet-to-helmet hit on WR Calvin Johnson, it’s just a matter of how much.
“Obviously I didn’t mean any intent to hurt him or anything. I was just trying to play the game,” Greenway said. “Once I saw he was in a vulnerable position I tried to pull off a little late obviously. Glad he wasn’t hurt and I hope he’s good.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.