Without Adrian Peterson in the lineup for the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night, the Buffalo Bills didn't fear blitzing QB Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense.
The Bills took an aggressive approach for the second preseason game, sending blitzes on 11 of the 16 times Ponder dropped back to pass. Head coach Leslie Frazier smiled Sunday when asked if having Peterson back in the lineup would make a difference.
"I think every team that we play, they're going to have a plan for Adrian Peterson when you line up. So that's all I'll say about that," Frazier said.
Peterson will play Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night in a nationally televised game on NBC. It will be his first action in a preseason game since 2011. He spent the 2012 offseason and preseason rehabilitating after December 2011 surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.
The starters for the Vikings are expected to play into the third quarter, but Peterson won't be in the game that long, Frazier said.
"Without Adrian Peterson in our scheme, it impacts our offense tremendously because he's the focal point. Yeah, it definitely makes a difference. That will be obvious when we open up the season," Frazier said. "It's obvious if you look at us from a season ago and it showed on Friday night. But the emphasis for us on Friday night, we didn't come into that ballgame saying we wanted to show Buffalo (or) anyone that we could be a dominant run team. We wanted to be able to do some things in the passing game. You saw us go up-tempo in what we call our red-ball offense. We were working on some things that we wanted to take a look at and we'll do more of that this week as well. Our identity has not changed."
Christian Ponder and much of the first-team offense played 25 snaps on Friday night. Of those, Ponder dropped back to pass 16 times, completing 5 of 12 passes for 53 yards, taking two sacks and scrambling twice for 14 yards.
"We want to be a balanced offense. But as anyone that follows us knows, our offense is going to be run through No. 28, through Adrian. So, yeah we want to be balanced for sure, and we're doing everything we can to help our passing game to improve," Frazier said. "But part of what will help our passing game be improved is having Adrian at full strength and having another super year like he's had."
The Vikings were also without Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton on Friday, further complicating their ability to protect Ponder in the face of the pressure that the Bills presented under first-year coach Doug Marrone.
Felton, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee last week, is expected to be ready for the regular-season opener, maybe even before.
"From what the doctors are telling me, it's a two-week recovery. That means we should be able to get some work out of him for sure after the Tennessee ballgame (the final one of the preseason on Aug. 29) and maybe the week of Tennessee, although that's a very short week. But for sure after that ballgame we should be able to get some work."
Peterson is expected to get a few touches Sunday, but it likely won't be extensive action for him after proving he can miss an entire preseason and still rush for 2,097 yards in 2012.
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.
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