A year ago, Mike Zimmer smiled at the podium inside TCF Bank Stadium after Adrian Peterson came off a down regular season opener to torch the Detroit Lions.
Entering Week 2, the Vikings once again expect Peterson to get into a groove with time after he went a fifth consecutive preseason without taking a handoff.
Peterson averaged just 1.6 yards per carry in the Vikings’ 25-16 win at Tennessee on Sunday, his first average below two yards in nearly three years.
“My experience with Adrian is each week he gets more comfortable with what we’re doing,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “He obviously did not take a snap in preseason.”
Asking around the locker room on Thursday, nearly every finger pointed at their own chests when asked what went wrong with the running game against the Titans. Guard Alex Boone said the offensive line must take ownership. Tackle Andre Smith noted he’d never seen nine, 10-man fronts before. And Peterson himself said there were “three, maybe four” runs in which he could’ve seen things better.
“I thought when there was a place to run the ball, Adrian found it in the couple runs where he squirted out, had a nine-yard run and he had a seven-yard run,” Turner said. “And he had a couple plays where he had an opportunity and he didn’t hit the hole. That’s going to happen.”
Shaun Hill started at quarterback and took advantage of some downfield windows, completing 11 of 18 throws for 185 yards on passes aimed at least 10 yards down the field. Though the Vikings’ hope is that Sam Bradford could help make the Green Bay defense honest should he get his first start in Minnesota on Sunday night.
Turner said the Vikings could approach things differently in terms of getting better looks for Peterson as well as taking more downfield shots when nearly every defender creeps toward the line.
“I’m not sure it’s Sam’s arm strength,” Turner said. “Shaun had plays he completed. I think it’s our willingness, hey they’re getting up there, we’re going to attack them a different way. I think we start making some plays up the field and do the things we think we’re capable of doing, it can kind of deter people from getting everyone up there.
“The Titans are really stout, very good up front on defense. I think they loaded up on us in terms of getting extra guys up there. They knew we wanted to run the ball, we were going to try to be stubborn with the ball.”
In the second game last year, Peterson had 134 rushing yards and added 58 receiving yards against the Lions. Though the Packers might present a stiffer challenge after holding Jacksonville’s T.J. Yeldon to 1.9 yards per carry last week.