Peterson's pass protection praised; might role in Vikings passing game increase?

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 26, 2014 - 11:14 PM
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Running back Adrian Peterson’s role in pass protection has changed under Norv Turner’s offense.

Photo: JERRY HOLT • jgholt@startribune.com,

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NFL Most Valuable Player. Perennial All-Pro. Potential Pro Football Hall of Famer. All Day. Purple Jesus.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been called a lot of things for a lot of years. But good pass protector hasn’t been one of them. Until Saturday, that is.

“He’s an outstanding pass protector, when you keep him in his element,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said.

That seemed to be Turner’s way of saying his pass protection schemes are different.

“We don’t want him blocking defensive ends,” Turner said. “We don’t want him blocking 280-pound outside linebackers. When he’s blocking the people he should be blocking, he’s very good in pass protection.”

Turner also has talked about incorporating Peterson into the passing game more than he has been.

“Some of the things, he does well, and some of the things he doesn’t do as well,” Turner said. “We’re going to try not to ask him to do the things he’s not comfortable with, but there are enough things he does well as a receiver that I feel like he’s going to make big plays in the passing game.”

Turner said Peterson’s third-down role is yet to be determined.

“We want to be a team that runs a lot of plays,” Turner said. “The way you do that is you get first downs, to me, on first and second down. If he’s getting a bunch of carries and playing a bunch on first and second down, we have the ability to use Matt [Asiata] or potentially Jerick [McKinnon] on third downs. But we’re certainly getting Adrian ready to play on third downs. Obviously, that includes two-minute [offense] because you want his presence on the field.”

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is on board. He was Atlanta’s defensive coordinator in 2007, when Peterson caught a swing pass and ran 60 yards for a touchdown in his NFL debut.

“Once he gets the ball in his hands and it’s in the open field, it’s bad news” for the defense, Zimmer said.

Praise for As-i-a-ta

Turner still can’t pronounce Matt Asiata’s last name, but that didn’t prevent him from heaping unsolicited praise on the backup running back.

With a pronunciation assist from a reporter, Turner said, “One of the guys who has been as impressive to me as anyone is [Asiata]. Matt finished the season strong and is in great shape. He gives you that big pounder, but he’s also an excellent athlete. He catches, he’s got good change of direction, he’s a good pass protector.”

Asiata stepped in for an injured Peterson late last season and ran for three touchdowns in a victory over Philadelphia and 115 yards on 14 carries in a victory over Detroit.

Patterson return close

Second-year wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (foot) didn’t practice for the second consecutive day, but unlike Friday, he did conditioning work with the athletic trainers on a separate field during Saturday’s practice.

“I’d be surprised if it’s long [before he returns],” Zimmer said.

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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 Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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