The Vikings took a look at several RBs over the offseason, training camp and preseason to come up with a plan to replace Chester Taylor, who left the team via free agency. Toby Gerhart, a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft, and Albert Young, a 2nd-year player who has worked his way up from the practice squad, will be relied upon to fulfill the role vacated by Taylor.
The primary role vacated by Taylor is that of the 3rd down back. Taylor was an excellent 3rd down back for the Vikings primarily because of his ability to pass protect and also because of his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
But while Gerhart and Young will be relied upon to fulfill some of those duties, it sounds as if Peterson himself has also honed in on those important 3rd down skills.
“Each year I always find things to improve on,” Peterson said on Monday, “and with the absence of Chester Taylor, the great third-down back we had, I really overemphasized in the offseason doing those things. Running routes, protection, things like that. Really just focus on things, and as a team work on things that I’ve been working on. I just have improved.”
Since he entered the NFL as the 7th overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, Peterson has been a game-changer. He set the single-game rushing record as a rookie in ’07, led the NFL in rushing in 2008 and led the NFL in TDs in 2009. But great players always find things to work on and there’s no questioning the fact that Peterson and the Vikings have worked hard to improve the young superstar’s ability to contribute in the passing game and on 3rd down, specifically his ability to pick up pass rushers in the backfield to give the QB time to find an open receiver and pick up a crucial 3rd down.
“He’s come a long way, and I’d say he’s come a long way even in these last two weeks,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He’s been outstanding, in terms of going back to that San Francisco pickup, where he didn’t quite step in there with as much confidence and conviction, to the last game against [Seattle] where you could see him do it, where he was able to step up in there and you could see him hold his ground (against a blitzing pass rusher).
“I’ve seen him going to the right spot, where he’s supposed to be. I’ve seen him stand in there with conviction and pick it up. And then I’ve seen him do a good job of reading, ‘Is that guy really blitzing or is he rushing to cover me and I need to get out?’ He’s come a long way.”
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Darrell Bevell
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