Nah. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said he didn’t feel rusty Monday night when he played in a game for the first time in more than a year.
“But I felt a little hesitant a couple of times, [taking handoffs] out of the shotgun,” said Peterson, who had only 10 carries for 31 yards and three catches for 21 yards as the Vikings were mauled 20-3 at San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium. “But outside of that, I felt pretty good, picking up guys in protection. A couple of the runs I had, it felt like I could have done a little better and a couple of them were pretty decent.”
Peterson missed the last 15 games of last season as he dealt with the fallout of child-abuse charges. He didn’t play this preseason and the only real contact he sustained in practice was an accidental helmet to the thigh early in training camp.
Asked if he felt like himself, he said, “I felt like I felt good. I really couldn’t get into a rhythm. Offensively, we really couldn’t keep the drives going. So with that you’re really not able to get in rhythm.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Peterson “looked alright to me” before adding, “He didn’t have any holes, so …”
Like many backs, Peterson looked awkward taking handoffs from the shotgun formation while standing beside quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. With leaky blocking making it even more difficult, Peterson couldn’t get going from a stand-still position.
“It’s different because you’re not able to get that full speed, that full steam going,” Peterson said. “But you can be successful doing it. The guys did a great job of doing it last year. I feel like I can run in any type of formation. So as we continue to work on the things we need to work on, we will improve.”
Peterson’s first carry didn’t come until the second series. The Vikings opened with a three-and-out possession in which Bridgewater threw three incomplete passes and was knocked down twice.
“We scripted some plays for him but we were getting out of it based on formations, based on the defense that was in there,” Zimmer said. “We weren’t running the ball very good either. We weren’t throwing it. We weren’t running it.”
Peterson said it his return wasn’t anything like what he had been visualizing for months.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t come out and play Vikings football today,” he said. “That was in all phases, offensively, defensively and special teams probably was the best group of the night with the blocked field goal. But I think it’s going to be a good learning experience for us. We just have to be real critical of ourselves and really open our eyes and come back Sunday [against Detroit at home] and show everybody what we’re all about.”
Peterson said it did surprise him that he didn’t get a carry on the first series.
“I maybe assumed one carry,” he said. “But I don’t really question coach [Norv] Turner. He’s been doing this a long time. I trust him. I got the ball a couple of times the second series. It is what it is.”
Despite the struggle, Peterson was happy to be playing football again. Finally.
“It felt good to get back out there with the guys and just kind of get the cobwebs off, so to say,” he said. “It at least felt good to go out there and play football, take some hits and whatnot. But it was definitely embarrassing to come out and perform the way we did tonight. It’s a good thing this is not Week 16 and we’re trying to get in the playoffs. I think we’re going to learn from this and take steps forward.”
It will be interesting to see how Peterson does if the Vikings continue to have Bridgewater hand off to him out of the shotgun formation.
“It’s really a matter of being more patient and allowing the guys [to block], whether it’s guys pulling, just allowing him to get on his blocks and then hitting it up in there,” Peterson said. “Those are the ones I kind of felt hesitant on. I wasn’t just able to hit it like coming out of the I-formation.”
Peterson has spent the summer talking about high expectations for the team and his personal goal of reaching 2,500 yards rushing. He was asked how he’ll deal with the embarrassment of such a poor start to the season.
“Just redemption,” he said. “You have to come back better than you were before. Thank God it’s Week 1 and it’s only one game. we have a divisional game coming up Sunday. we need to come out and take care of business.”
On Sunday, Peterson will play his first game at TCF Bank Stadium. He missed all the home games last season and didn’t play in the 2010 game that was played there when the Metrodome roof collapsed.
“It’s going to be exciting coming out of the tunnel for the first time and be on that field for the first time,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”