Adrian Peterson (Mike McCarn/AP)
Is Adrian Peterson the best running back in the game right now? He was asked that on Friday. Plus, get more than a dozen notes from the first practice of training camp.
The question came out like a challenge: Adrian, are you the best back in the game?
In reality, that question has been debated by analysts every year. Just the past couple of years have had Adrian Peterson’s name attached to the point-counterpoint. First it was between Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson, and Peterson led the league in rushing in 2008. Now it’s between Peterson and the 2009 rushing leader, Tennessee’s Chris Johnson.
This time, Peterson had a chance to offer his opinion. Surprise – he chose himself.
“It’s funny because before (Johnson) even had this awesome season – running for 2,000 yards, that’s impressive – I told him. I had the opportunity to talk to him and I told how my view is,” Peterson said of Johnson. “I view myself as the best running back and the best player that’s going to be able to play this game. Like I told him, to be able to accomplish those things, that’s something that you’ve got to envision in yourself or it’s not going to happen.”
Peterson has talked of reaching 2,000 yards for a couple of years. The fact that Johnson reached it last year and Peterson hasn’t hit that mark yet hasn’t discouraged Peterson.
“I’m motivated to hit it each year. Seeing him doing it, it was nice. I was excited for him, but I’m motivated at all times,” he said. “… That’s what it’s all about, about competition and I love it. Giving guys some wisdom and some insight on some things to help them improve their game and look at things in different ways.”
FRIDAY PRACTICE NOTES
The Vikings opened training camp with 81 players listed on the roster and an NFL mandate that only 80 can be active. Since WR Sidney Rice and CB Cedric Griffin are on the “active” physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list, they still count against the roster. So how did the team reach 80? Because Brett Favre is officially listed as “did not report” and therefore doesn’t count against the roster limit. If/when he reports, the Vikings will have to make some sort of roster move, if they haven’t already by that time.
The sons of two Vikings coaches are ball boys for the team at this year’s training camp. Elijah Bieniemy, the middle-school son of running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, and Karmichael Dunbar, the high school son of defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, were both working the sidelines Friday in Mankato.
Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked if Brett Favre should be in Mankato. “He’ll make a decision, and we’ll live with it, either way. Would I love to have him come back? I’d love to have him come back. But that’s something that he’s wrestling with right now and he’ll do what’s best for him and his family and I think everybody can live with it either way.”
Childress on Pat Williams losing 18 pounds: “Pat’s big enough to eat hay and (poop) in the street. I’m not sure how he lost those 18 pounds, but I’m happy he did.”
Rookie quarterback Joe Webb will get a lot of press over the coming weeks, but most of it won’t focus on him covering kickoffs, like he was at the start of practice Friday.
CB Marcus Sherels, WR Percy Harvin and CB Lito Sheppard all received turns returning punts.
Not surprisingly, ball security was an emphasis for the running backs, who went through at least one drill during the individual period where they carried a ball attached to a rope that another player tugged on. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy stressed that the players hold the ball “high and tight.”
Rookie WR Ray Small has NFL speed, but he struggled catching the ball at times. He rebounded to make one nice extended catch while leaping to meet a Webb pass over the middle of the field.
LB E.J. Henderson shared first-team reps with Jasper Brinkley, although Henderson opened the seven-on-seven session with the starters.
With Rice starting camp on the PUP list, Greg Lewis was used in three-receiver sets.
With Griffin also on the PUP list, Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen each received some time with the first-team defense, although Allen’s time was spent filling in sparingly for Antoine Winfield.
LB Chad Greenway had a strong practice, breaking up at least two passes over the middle.
Webb and WR Jaymar Johnson had the play of the day, a long completion down the left sideline in between CB Chris Cook and S Husain Abdullah.
Erin Henderson appears to be the primary backup outside linebacker.
Letroy Guion received some work with the second-team defense in front of Fred Evans at DT and alongside Jimmy Kennedy.
Jamarca Sanford received some limited reps at safety with the first-team defense, but Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson started the full-team session as the starters.
WR Percy Harvin received at least one rep working out of the backfield.
Darius Reynaud continues to work with the running backs.
WR Marko Mitchell was the only player not assigned a jersey number a few weeks ago. He is wearing No. 19 for those scoring or charting at home.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.