Peterson Impresses Teammates

Peterson and Richardson (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)

Rookie running back Adrian Peterson had been showing his talents all offseason and preseason, but his teammates remained impressed with his performance in the regular-season opener when he needed to carry the load after a Chester Taylor injury.

The Detroit Lions likely will be spending extra time this week trying to figure out how to slow Adrian Peterson.

The rookie running back had an impressive NFL debut last Sunday rushing for 103 yards on 19 carries (5.4-yard average) and scoring on a 60-yard catch-and-run in the Vikings' 24-3 victory over Atlanta at the Metrodome.

The Vikings will travel to Ford Field this Sunday to face a Lions team they haven't lost to in 10 games, dating to the 2001 season. The status of veteran running back Chester Taylor was unclear after the Atlanta victory because of a bruised hip that forced him out in the opening quarter.

The plan had been to split the carries between Taylor and Peterson and get them on the field at the same time on occasion. But Taylor's injury scuttled that and gave Peterson the opportunity to show what he could do.

He didn't disappoint.

His 103 yards on the ground established a Vikings record for most yards rushing by a player in his first NFL game and he became only the third Viking to gain 100 yards rushing in his first game with the team.

"I always expect myself to go out there and help the team and make big plays," said Peterson, the seventh-overall pick in the NFL draft. "That is what you dream of the night before, the big plays you want to make. It all starts with working hard and being prepared."

Peterson, who has been putting in extra work on a near daily basis with running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, appeared well prepared for his first NFL appearance.

"I was very impressed," veteran fullback Tony Richardson said. "You go back and watch the film, I'm sure there are probably a ton of things you can get cleaned up. But having Chester go down as early as he did they're really just saying, ‘Hey, kid you've got to go in there and make some plays,' and he did.

"That says a lot about him and it says a lot about coach Eric Bieniemy really getting him ready to play and his mindset being right. It's incredible for him to play the way he did in Week 1, but by Week 5 he's going to be 10 times better and that's just going to help us to be a better football team."

NOTES

  • LB E.J. Henderson had two sacks against the Falcons in his first game back at the middle linebacker spot. Henderson had spent the past two years playing on the weak side but returned to his natural position to replace the departed Napoleon Harris. Chad Greenway took over on the weak side and had a game-high 10 tackles.

  • RB Mewelde Moore was a surprise inactive Sunday. That left the Vikings with only two running backs (Taylor and Peterson) active. With Taylor injured, fullback Naufahu Tahi saw spot duty at tailback and carried twice for 5 yards.

  • DE Erasmus James also was inactive as he continues the slow recovery process from a knee injury suffered early last season. James has returned to the practice field but wasn't considered close enough to 100 percent to play. Receiver Robert Ferguson (ankle) and safety Mike Doss (calf) also sat out.

  • The Vikings' victory was the first for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson started the final two games of last season. "It felt good to win the first one especially after last year (when) I went 0-2," he said. "It's a new season and it's good to get the first one out of the way."

  • The Vikings got two interception returns for touchdowns Sunday, with defensive tackle Kevin Williams returning one 54 yards and Antoine Winfield going 14 yards. Both were off Joey Harrington passes. Williams' return was the second longest by a Vikings defensive lineman and the longest returned for a score. Williams also set a franchise mark for most touchdowns in a career by a defensive lineman.

  • Chris Kluwe had his first game with five punts inside the 20-yard line Sunday, tying a team record.

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