Running back Adrian Peterson declared again on Wednesday that, physically, “I feel like I’m back to where I need to be.”
Then he shifted quickly to where he thinks offensive coordinator Norv Turner is mentally. And it’s a happy place for an elite running back.
“I feel like scheme-wise, just having coach [Norv] Turner and having the great mind that he has, to make sure that as an offense we’re able to go out there and execute to the best of our ability,” Peterson said. “We’ve been able to kind of run the ball a little more in the past two weeks and still be balanced as an offense, but be productive.”
Peterson then made it clear that he’s not angling for Turner’s job behind the scenes.
“I don’t request anything,” Peterson said. “I sit back. [Turner has] been doing it a long time. He’s a legend. I let him sit back and evaluate things. Whatever he asks us to do, we put our best foot forward.”
In the opener at San Francisco, Peterson carried the ball only 10 times for 31 yards. He looked hesitant taking handoffs from the shotgun formation.
The past two weeks, he’s climbed to the top of the NFL rushing chart while taking handoffs mostly with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater lined up under center. It’s working because Peterson has 260 yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries (5.3) the past two weeks.
Asked if he had asked Turner to give him the ball more out of the I-formation, Peterson gave a quick, “No.” Asked how that’s come to pass without asking Turner for it, Peterson said, “I think people sit back and evaluate things and look at things. And you see OK [what works]. I don’t know what goes through his mind, but he’s been making some good adjustments. I can’t complain. I can’t tell him what to do. He’s been doing this for way longer than me. I just do what I’m told.”
Here are some other highlights from Peterson’s press conference today:
— On Denver’s No. 1-ranked defense: “They look real good, actually. I see why they’re ranked the No. 1 defense. Up front, they’re stout, they’re strong, they’re fast. Of course, they have a great linebacker corps. And the secondary is stellar as well. This will be the best defense we’ll face thus far.”
— On how he feels through three weeks: “I feel like I still have room to improve. So that’s where I focus on in the beginning of the week. Watching the film and seeing what I could do better. It always comes back to being more patient. [Making] better reads and executing better as well. … You continue to sharpen your knife so you’re ready to go.”
On taking the NFL rushing lead: “I wouldn’t say surprised at all. But sometimes you have games like [the 49ers game]. Unfortunately, that game wasn’t the way we planned it. But we’re here now. We’re excited. We’re in a good position as a team.”
— On the rushing title being a goal: “Of course. That’s one of my personal goals. If I’m sitting here talking about 2,500 yards, then I better get the rushing title. So, yeah, it’s definitely one of my goals.”
— On the difference between Week 1 and now: “My body physically. Just really having the opportunity to open my lungs. Get my lungs opened back up. I don’t care what you do [to prepare], there is nothing like being out there breaking away from guys, cutting on guys on a dime. So I was able to get my legs back under me the first couple of weeks, and do some extra conditioning to open my lungs up. So physically, I feel like I’m back to where I need to be.”
— On Denver’s run defense: “In the middle, they’re stout, they’re fast, they’re strong. I feel they have everything you want in a D-tackle. They’re good as a group. I’ve seen on film those guys dominate the nose guard, the three-technique. But when you got DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller out there on the sides, I would think the middle would be a little softer. But they just have a great unit.”
— On playing in Denver’s high altitude and how he plans to prepare for that: “Just not think about it. I don’t think I’ve played in high altitude. I’ve ran a couple of times in high altitude. I’m in good shape. I’m ready to roll. To be honest, I don’t really feel like I’ll feel a difference.”