Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings roster analysis: Running backs

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: February 12, 2014 - 9:53 AM

We'll take a daily look at where the Vikings' roster stands at the moment position-by-position leading up to our NFL Combine coverage next week.

Position: Running back

On the roster: Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Zach Line

Free agents: Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata (Exclusive rights free agent)

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks posted an interesting article about a new offensive trend for some of the top teams in the league: a power running game.

Speaking to a few NFL executives at the Senior Bowl, they’d agree with Brooks’ assessment, noting how Patriots head coach Bill Belichick used running back LeGarrette Blount late in the season and during the divisional round against the Colts (24 carries, 166 yards and four touchdowns). If Belichick is doing it, then it’s a good sign other teams will catch on soon. The Seahawks, who just won the Super Bowl, are another great example of a power running style with Marshawn Lynch.

It’s hard to find a better power back than Adrian Peterson when healthy with fullback Jerome Felton leading the way as well in two-back formations. The Vikings finished eighth in the NFL last year in rushing with 130.1 yards a game. Peterson missed two games but still finished fifth with 1,266 rushing yards, averaging 4.5 yards a carry.

Peterson had successful groin surgery on Jan. 23 and was expected to make a full recovery in another three weeks. He battled with the injury throughout the season and suffered a foot sprain on top of that in Week 14 against the Ravens.

Can Peterson, who will turn 29 by the start of next season, remain healthy for a full season? And who will be his backup?

Toby Gerhart replaced Peterson, but he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 15 and again the following week, leaving the team down to Matt Asiata at the position at the end of the season.

As an exclusive rights free agent, the Vikings can offer Asiata at a third-year veteran minimum salary. Asiata would have to accept the deal, if offered, or leave the NFL.

While Asiata has a good shot to return next season, it’s hard to see Gehart back in Minnesota. He has the talent to be a lead running back or at the very least in a two-back system, which won’t happen with Peterson. There are a few teams that could use a running back, including the Dolphins, Browns and Giants.

With Peterson back, this should still arguably the strongest position on the team with his credentials. How the Vikings handle the backup situation will be important in case Peterson misses time during the season again.

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Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Baltimore 1
Detroit 66 4th Qtr 9:07
Charlotte 78
Philadelphia 67 4th Qtr 10:42
Washington 95
San Antonio 91 4th Qtr 7:31
Orlando 72
Indiana 46 3rd Qtr 7:25
Boston 59
Brooklyn 58 3rd Qtr
New York 53
Chicago 36 2nd Qtr 5:12
Milwaukee 35
Dallas 49 2nd Qtr 5:55
Oklahoma City 44
Sacramento 39 2nd Qtr 6:39
Houston 48
Toronto 50 2nd Qtr 4:10
Minnesota 37
Denver 8:00 PM
Utah
LA Clippers 9:00 PM
Portland
New Orleans 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 2 2nd Prd 8:45
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 1 2nd Prd
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Colorado 9:30 PM
San Jose
Loyola-Chicago 33 1st Half
ULM 33
UCLA 69 FINAL
Michigan 65
Temple 53 1st OT
West Virginia 53
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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