Peterson’s presence bolsters hope for the Vikings offense

Published 10:44 am Tuesday, August 20, 2013

By St. Paul Pioneer Press

EDEN PRAIRIE — Adrian Peterson didn’t play at all in the preseason last year en route to earning the NFL’s MVP award.

And despite not appearing in either of the Vikings first two preseason games, the running back has only bolstered his importance to the starting offense, which hasn’t exactly shined in his absence.

Email newsletter signup

But Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson will make his preseason debut Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers — and his teammates are champing at the bit.

“It’ll be key for us continuing to move forward, especially with him getting some live reps with us, getting his timing down and hitting the holes on certain plays,” Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt said. “Whatever the coaches want to do, I’m with it. But it definitely helps us. I don’t see anything that could be wrong with him coming out there. It’s a positive or us, and we definitely need it.”

This preseason has been costly for a number of teams with notable players such as tight end Dennis Pitta (Baltimore Ravens), tight end Dustin Keller (Miami Dolphins), offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay Packers), safety Phillip Thomas (Washington Redskins) center Dan Koppen (Denver Broncos) and receiver Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles) suffering season-ending injuries.

But Peterson, who had a remarkable recovery from torn knee ligaments, insisted he’s been pestering Frazier for some playing time this preseason.

“I’ve been here seven years. I know how it goes. I try not to harp on it too much. I know the decision he makes is in the best interests of the team,” Peterson said of Frazier. “It won’t stop me completely from going to him and say, ‘Hey, coach, I want to get in. I want to get a couple snaps.’ So I think I convinced him this week.”

After watching the first two preseason games, Peterson said he started “itching” to play.

“I’m all about competing and getting better with my team,” he said.

Asked how much he wants to plays, Peterson said, “Maybe like a half.”

Frazier said Sunday that Peterson would not play into the third quarter.

Peterson reiterated what Loadholt suggested, that continuity would be gained by him playing during the preseason.

“Just to be out there as an offensive unit, not be bits and pieces,” Peterson said. “Get that time in live. There’s no way to emulate that.”

Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said the staff has been mindful of Peterson’s health, especially after an offseason hernia surgery.

“We want to keep him healthy; we want to keep him fresh,” Musgrave said. “We know we have work to do in a lot of components, and the barometer in Buffalo showed we still have a significant amount of work to do. And we’ll have another good barometer this week.”