When Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner took the job under coach Mike Zimmer a year ago, one of the things he was most excited about was getting to implement the talent of running back Adrian Peterson into his offensive scheme. But Peterson played only one game after a Texas grand jury indicted him in September on a felony charge for disciplining his then-4-year-old son with a switch.
Turner, who has worked with all-time great running backs such as Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson, says Peterson's return to the team this week doesn't necessarily change the scheme, but it changes everything about how the rest of the offense will function.
"We have Adrian and that makes the running game a lot different," Turner said. "We're really working hard with the offensive line and we have some new, young players that we're developing and I like the way it is going, as well as you can, during OTAs [organized team activities]."
How much of a difference will Peterson make?
"Well, any great player — and you're talking about one of the greatest players to ever play — it makes a total difference," Turner said. "It changes the whole approach for everybody."
Does he consider this a new offense with Peterson?
"If you really break down how we played the last six weeks of the season, we played pretty good on offense," Turner said. "That's something we're going to build on. You add Adrian to it and, yeah, it makes a big difference."
Not counting last season, Peterson has averaged 29 receptions per season since entering the NFL in 2007. His highest single-season total was 43 receptions in 2009, but Turner said from the moment he signed on, he wanted to use Peterson more in the passing game.
"No question, that was our plan," he said. "He caught [two passes] in that first game a year ago. I would expect him to be a part in the passing game."
In Turner's three years in Dallas as the offensive coordinator, Smith averaged 55 receptions per season. Tomlinson averaged 44 receptions per season in the three years he played under Turner when he was the coach at San Diego.
Still, Turner said the offense is going to be more explosive for reasons that go beyond Peterson.
"Some of the guys are guys that were here last year and have been in the system," Turner said. "You add [wide receiver] Mike Wallace, I think he is going to make a big difference. It's a good group. I think when you have five guys that can attack and make plays, and Adrian in the backfield, we have a chance to have a really good offense."
This might be one of the best Vikings offenses since the team went to the NFC Championship Game following the 2009 season, and Turner knows that.
"I'm excited," he said. "I was excited about the way we developed and the way our young players progressed. This is just an added deal."
Twins roster changes
If you look at the Twins' roster from 2011, when they started their streak of four consecutive years with 90 or more losses, only four players from that team are stillon the roster: Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins.
The roster has completely turned over since then, and it has come in waves each year.
In 2012, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Chris Herrmann and Casey Fien joined the club. In 2013 it was Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Mike Pelfrey, Kyle Gibson, Michael Tonkin and Ryan Pressly first playing for the Twins.
In 2014 they signed Kurt Suzuki, Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, and Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas, Eduardo Nunez, Jordan Schafer, Trevor May, Tommy Milone and Aaron Thompson all made appearances.
This year they brought back Torii Hunter and also added Shane Robinson, Eddie Rosario, Blaine Boyer, J.R. Graham and Tim Stauffer, along with the suspended Ervin Santana.
• As things stand, Peterson is going to play under his current $12.5 million contract that is not guaranteed, and the word is no contract negotiations are currently going on.
• My relationship with Randy Moss was always super, close enough that I knew a lot of the good things he did that he didn't want publicized. That sometimes meant he did a lot more good than the media gave him credit for, including often contributing to a children's home in south Minneapolis while he was with the Vikings. Now in the past two weeks, he came here, as reported in the Star Tribune by Jim Souhan, and raised $20,000 by signing autographs so various youngsters could go to a boys camp. He also went to Pelican Rapids to attend the graduation of Kassi Spier, a young girl he met while she was battling cancer when he was playing with the Vikings. And unlike a lot of athletes, when he told me, "I play when I want to," he didn't deny saying it when it could have made him look better to deny it.
• The Brewers face the Twins at Target Field starting Friday with three familiar faces — outfielder Carlos Gomez, who was with the Twins in 2008 and 2009, and pitchers Kyle Lohse (2001-2006) and Matt Garza (2006-07). None of the three is setting the world on fire, with Gomez hitting .262 with five home runs, one triple, 10 doubles and 21 RBI. Both pitchers are struggling, with Lohse 3-6 with a 6.50 ERA and Garza 3-7 with a 5.52 ERA.
• At this point, the Gophers haven't lost an in-state recruit for 2016 that they have offered a scholarship, and they are working hard to convince J.D. Spielman, the all-around Eden Prairie athlete and son of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, to commit to Minnesota. J.D. is interested in the Gophers, but he is going to visit Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska before he commits. The Gophers currently have nine commitments for the Class of 2016, including seven from Minnesota.
• Former Indiana University pitcher Aaron Slegers was named the Twins minor league pitcher of the week last week after pitching a three-hit shutout for Class A Fort Myers on May 24. Slegers is 3-3 this season with a 3.83 ERA, 51⅔ innings pitched, 51 hits 10 walks and 34 strikeouts.
• Gophers golfers Jon DuToit and Jose Mendez were named to the PING All-Midwest Region team. This is the first time the Gophers have place two golfers on the squad since 2011.
• Brad Hand, the Chaska High School product who was drafted in the second round by the Marlins in 2008, is 1-1 this season and has made two starts and 14 relief appearances. He has a 4.24 ERA and has 22 strikeouts in 34 innings. Hand got his first victory of the season Tuesday when he threw six innings and gave up two runs on six hits with two strikeouts to defeat the Cubs 5-2.
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