In November, Adrian Peterson rushed for 634 yards, more than he had in the previous two months combined, to gallop out to a commanding lead in the race for the NFL’s rushing title. On Thursday, the NFL recognized the Vikings running back for his efforts, naming him the NFC’s offensive player of the month.
“It feels good to get that award, but it’s a group effort offensively, as well,” Peterson said. “But [an award like this] always just kind of puts things in perspective for me.”
One man’s perspective, a belief Peterson said he agrees with, is that he has gotten better as the year has gone on.
It was fair to wonder how he would hold up over the course of a 16-game season after missing almost all of 2014 and then celebrating his 30th birthday last spring. But with the Vikings coming down the home stretch, he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Peterson reached triple digits in rushing yards in four of five games in November, including a season-high 203 yards in the Week 10 victory at Oakland and 158 in the 20-10 victory at Atlanta last weekend. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns in the month.
Peterson maintains that missing 15 games last season because of legal issues ended up being a blessing in disguise for him physically, as he said he feels as fresh this late in the season as he can remember.
“Any time you can take away 425 hits on your body,” Peterson said, “it’s going to be good for you. Especially for a 30-year-old back, as they say.”
It was the second time in his career that Peterson won a player of the month award. He was also named NFL FedEx Ground player of the week for his performance vs. the Falcons.
For the second day in a row, Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph (foot) and safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle) did not practice. But on Thursday, they had company: Linebacker Anthony Barr, who has been playing with a broken left hand and now has a groin injury, did not practice after limited participation Wednesday.
Barr has also dealt with a knee injury. But he has started every game this season and has played 96.2 percent of the defensive snaps, tops among Vikings defenders.
“We need him to play [through those injuries] because he’s a good player,” coach Mike Zimmer said.
This week, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was talking about how Sunday’s opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, have still been able to run the ball effectively without injured running back Marshawn Lynch and how there’s “still a good running back” in their backfield.
So naturally, Floyd was asked about that running back, an undrafted rookie named Thomas Rawls.
“Who’s that?” Floyd replied.
You know, the running back you just mentioned, the one who ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing with 685 yards despite starting only five games.
“All I know is he touches the ball,” Floyd said. “I’m trying to hit the guy with the ball. We try to stop the run. I don’t really care who he is.”
One advantage for the Vikings as they prepare for Seattle is that they just played the Falcons, who run a similar scheme under coach Dan Quinn, who was Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014.
But quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said the Vikings believe the Seattle defense is “much more talented.”
“They have guys who have been playing together,” Bridgewater said. “Super Bowl, eight returning starters [from that game]. We’re aware of those things. We know that they execute a little better than Atlanta did. It just shows that they’re more comfortable running that scheme.”
Better than picks
No QB has more throwaways this season than Bridgewater. He has thrown the ball away on 31 of his 368 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s a throwaway on a league-high 8.4 percent of his passing plays.
“I think it’s good,” Zimmer said. “If it’s not there, let’s get rid of it and not have a negative play.”