Adrian Peterson may not want to play for the Minnesota Vikings this season but it's now pretty clear he's going to have to as the team isn't trading him. What can we expect from Peterson and the Vikings this coming NFL season?
I don't think sportsbooks do preseason odds for NFL Comeback Player of the Year, but if there are ever some then I think it's all but a lock that Peterson will be the favorite. Maybe he can join former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington as the only two-time winner of the award. In 2011, Peterson had a disappointing season with Minnesota. He rushed for just 970 yards in 12 games. The next season, Peterson exploded for 2,097 yards rushing, the second-most in league history, to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award as well as league MVP honors.
Of course Peterson played in just one game in 2014 because of those child abuse charges in Texas for how Peterson disciplined is young son. Peterson felt the Vikings didn't support him at all through all that and it was why he was hoping to play elsewhere this season. It's no secret that Peterson wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys, but the Vikings held firm that they weren't going to trade or release their best player. Maybe that's revisited this season before the trade deadline if the Vikings are struggling. It sure seems that Dallas could use an upgrade at running back, but that's a story for another day.
Peterson Hungry For Redemption
I do expect pretty big things from Peterson for a few reasons. The first is that the guy is going to have about the biggest chip in the world on his shoulder. A huge season would help salvage Peterson's reputation, which obviously took a beating (pun not intended). His wife apparently expects big things.
"I'd say 2,200 yards (this season),'' Ashley Peterson said of her husband's potential in 2015. "I think he can definitely do it. His mind-set is totally different than anybody I've ever met. He's very determined; he's very strong-minded; he's very strong-willed. I think he has a goal in mind and he's not going to stop until he reaches that goal. ... I think he's going to go out there and surprise a lot of doubters and the naysayers.''
Peterson himself said he wants to break Emmitt Smith 's career rushing record of 18,355 yards. Peterson currently has 10,190 career rushing yards and has said he thinks he can play seven or eight more years (highly doubtful). He would need to average 1,021 yards per season if he plays for eight more to break the record. Peterson should be in great health as he didn't have a year of pounding on his body. Yes, Peterson is 30 and there's the old adage about how a star running back's production takes a huge dip at that age. And that's generally right. But that's where I think the year off helps him. Former Giant Tiki Barber rushed for 1,860 yards at age 30, one of just six seasons in league history when a running back rushed for more than 1,500 yards in his 30s.
Currently at 5Dimes, Peterson is +600 with Houston's Arian Foster, Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and Philadelphia's DeMarco Murray to lead the league in rushing yards. Murray did last season while with Dallas.
How much help will Peterson get? The Vikings have a so-so offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranked it 21st last year overall and 17th in run blocking (25th in pass blocking). The team has what looks to be a keeper at quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. In 13 games as a rookie, he completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 picks. Teams won't be able to totally key on Peterson because they have to account for new addition wide receiver Mike Wallace. He can be a total jerk but he helps stretch the field. My one concern with backing Peterson on that prop is the Vikings might cut his workload a bit, both to save Peterson's health but also because Minnesota has a good young running back in Jerick McKinnon. He rushed 113 times for 538 yards and five scores last year as a rookie. Peterson has been working out in Houston with McKinnon and Wallace.
NFL Free Pick: I don't see Peterson leading the league in rushing. But he'll put up 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns or so. The Vikings look like a 9-7 team and a wild-card contender.