Adrian Peterson (Elsa/Getty)
Despite his last 100-yard rushing performance coming on Nov. 15, Adrian Peterson says he hasn’t lost confidence in the running game. Plus, the Vikings are trying to get their injured players ready for Sunday’s NFC Championship.
Adrian Peterson entered his third NFL season averaging more than 100 yards per game. Over the last six games, Peterson is averaging just 60 yards a game.
Peterson is well aware of the people who believe he is having a down year. He’s been asked about it several times, despite finishing fifth in the league with 1,383 yards rushing. But he is maintaining a positive attitude even as the questions continue.
“I am very confident. As a running back unit we have been contributing to this offense in the run game and the pass game and most importantly we’ve been winning, putting ourselves in the position to win an NFC Championship and head to the Super Bowl,” Peterson said. “So whatever I can do to contribute to the offense, that’s what I’m doing, putting it all in.”
Last year, Peterson led the league with 1,760 yards rushing. But, like Peterson, guard Steve Hutchinson maintains that even if the big yards aren’t coming in the running game, it can still be effective.
“If you compare our running game to what we did the last couple years, it probably is not – well it isn’t – as glorious statistic-wise as it has been, but we’re throwing the ball for 300 yards a game or whatever we’re throwing it for,” Hutchinson said. “There are only so many yards in a game you can get, so many yards down the field. I think Brett (Favre) is doing a good job of when the defense is dictating that they are not going to let us run on a certain look, we are throwing the ball more than we would have in the past. … Nobody is going to complain when we are putting up 30 points a game and a lot of that is going though the air.”
The Vikings did finish second in the league in scoring with 470 points, second only to the New Orleans Saints’ 510 points.
Of course, the Vikings play those Saints in the NFC Championship Game, and last year New Orleans was masterful at limiting Peterson’s production. He had only 32 yards on 21 rushes – a 1.5-yard average per carry – but the Vikings still won.
“I look at that game (last year) – those guys did a great job. I don’t take anything away from those guys, but just studying the film it was really a lot that I did,” Peterson said. “I really wasn’t patient in that game. I missed a couple of big runs. We’re playing a different team and we’re both trying to get to that championship game. It’s going to be critical for me to make sure I take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves this time.”
Hutchinson said Peterson has kept an upbeat attitude, despite his last 100-yard game being on Nov. 15.
“He’s the type of guy that comes in every day and does what he’s asked to do. He’s not a guy that runs his mouth a lot anyway when he’s having 200-yard games,” Hutchinson said. “He’s a pretty patient person and he just kind of keeps plugging away at the running game, as we all do. I think he has the feeling everyone else does to keep on working hard and doing what we’re coached to do and eventually he’s going to have his breakout game, the game everybody expects him to have.”
WR Percy Harvin missed another day of practice Friday, his second straight day missing preparation for the Saints, because of migraine headaches. He is among a handful of Vikings listed as questionable.
Head coach Brad Childress said Harvin got a base game plan on Wednesday, both offensively and in the kick-return game.
“It’s less than ideal, but he’s played under the same circumstances this year,” Childress said.
Harvin stayed at home on Friday and Childress said the episodes all vary in length and intensity and the coach admitted that travel on an airplane can be a factor for some people suffering from migraines.
Also questionable for the Vikings are DT Pat Williams (elbow/foot), DE Ray Edwards (knee), DT Kevin Williams (knee) and Benny Sapp (ankle/back). Kevin Williams and Ray Edwards both missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
“They did OK. We’ll just always see how they bounce tomorrow,” Childress said of the latter two defensive linemen.
CB Antoine Winfield (foot), WR Bernard Berrian (ankle), G Steve Hutchinson (shoulder), DT Jimmy Kennedy (thumb) and LB Ben Leber (knee) are probable, meaning they are a “virtual certainty” to play.
For the Saints, TE Jeremy Shockey (knee) and Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring) are questionable and didn't practice the last few days. WR Robert Meachem (ankle) and S Darren Sharper (knee) are probable.
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.