When the Minnesota Vikings continually indicated that they had no plans to trade Adrian Peterson during the whole drama earlier this offseason, most people chalked it up to the team playing hardball with the future Hall of Famer.
It now appears that Minnesota also wanted to hold on to the star running back for actual on-field reasons. Imagine that.
Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune indirectly hinted at Peterson being thrown back into the fray in discussing the role backup running back Jerick McKinnon will play this upcoming season.
“Adrian Peterson will get the majority of the carries in this offense. We all know that. I think McKinnon’s role will be as an occasional third down back,” the scribe wrote. “We saw the Vikings use Peterson and McKinnon together in split formations in the backfield, so there’s a possibility we’ll see that again in training camp. We’ll likely see Matt Asiata again in short yardage situations, but McKinnon made a good impression before his back injury last season to carve out a niche role.”
Despite Asiata taking over a majority of the goal-line and short-yardage situations last season, that’s unlikely going to be the case with Peterson back in the fold. McKinnon, a second-year player from Georgia Southern, put up a respectable rookie season. He averaged 4.8 yards per attempt in 11 games (six starts). Though, he caught just 27 passes.
The interesting dynamic here is that Peterson isn’t necessarily known for his receiving abilities. His career-high number came back in 2009 with just 43.
With Teddy Bridgewater under center, it’s possible that the Vikings won’t be looking for much from their running backs in the receiving game. The short-yardage and high percentage passes will likely go to Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph. If that’s the case, Peterson could see more third-down snaps than most of us figured.
The impact here is real. It means that Minnesota isn’t looking at lowering the workload that saw Peterson put up an average of over 290 rush attempts per year heading into 2014.
Photo: USA Today