Brett Favre has received a lot attention and credit – and rightfully so – for the Vikings 7-1 record at the halfway point of the season. Some have wondered how Favre’s presence and the subsequent improvement in the passing game have affected Adrian Peterson’s workload.
Peterson won the NFL rushing title last season with 1,760 yards and through eight games this season, his numbers are on par with his production at this point in 2008.
Peterson had 823 yards rushing on 170 carries in the first eight games last season. He has rushed for 784 yards on 163 carries this season.
He averaged 21.25 carries per game in the first eight games last season; he’s averaging 20.3 carries this season.
He averaged 4.84 yards per carry in the first half last season; he’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season.
He had six touchdown runs at this point last season; he has nine now.
The only real difference is how Peterson is being used in the passing game. A year ago, he had only 12 catches for 65 yards. He currently 19 catches for 189 yards.
The coaching staff seems to have more confidence in Peterson’s receiving skills and ability to handle the third-down role.
“I think that he is a threat any time he handles the ball, whether you throw it to him or hand it to him,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said last week. “Obviously he is a huge threat. He is a physical runner. He’s got great speed, and he’s strong. We continually try to work him in there in the pass game, get him more balls catching it as well. Sometimes when you can get him a pass he gets more air obviously to be able to run on while he is out there.”
Peterson, who is tied for second in the NFL in rushing, said after Sunday’s victory at Green Bay that he feels good physically but that the bye came at a perfect time.
“I feel good,” he said. “You have the normal wear and tear that comes each week. But overall I feel good. No serious injuries. Thank God for that. Now I get a week to rest.”