Adrian Peterson Wants to Play Special Teams; Why Not?

For the past several seasons, Adrian Peterson has done it all. Well, almost everything: when recently asked at a press conference about his desire to play special teams, the league’s best running back answered with an emphatic “yes.”

“For the past two years, I’ve been trying to get in on field goal block. Come in off the edge, you know? It’s just going to take one block for them to really be like, ‘OK, you know what? Let’s take the chance and let you go out there and get it done,’ ” Peterson said. “Kickoff return, I wouldn’t mind getting back there. I’m in it to win.”

“He always asks,” Vikings special teams coordinator Priefer said. “He’s a football player. Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome. I always say yes, and then I ask the head coach and he says no. I know what the answer is going to be. I don’t even have to ask.”

Right now, the Packers are favored by eight points against Minnesota. How much would that line change if the oddsmakers knew that Peterson was going to touch the ball 35 times in this game? 45 times? 50? When you have arguably the best football player on the planet on your team, doesn’t it behoove you to give him the ball as many times as the clock allows?

The fact of the matter is that the Vikings need to give Peterson an outrageous amount of touches anyway in order to win this game. It’s been their recipe all season; hell, it’s been their recipe for the duration of All Day’s career thus far. Wouldn’t the Packers be just a little more on edge if they knew AP was getting special teams touches? It’s an intriguing option, and clearly one the Vikings have seriously considered; Priefer said he has play calls designed specifically for Peterson on kickoff returns if the situation were to get dire enough.

“We would show him exactly where the return is supposed to hit and let him do his magic. There’s absolutely an opportunity for him to go back there, I would think, in a crucial situation,” Priefer said.

The idea of the best offensive player in football coming in to attempt field goal blocks is funny, but the Vikings seriously need to think outside of the box with Adrian Peterson, especially in the playoffs. There’s never been a player like him, so why use him in strictly conventional ways? Of course, a heavy dose of conventional ground and pound football never hurts, either. When these two teams played on December 2 in Lambeau’s hostile environment, Peterson rushed for over 200 yards in a loss, a performance that Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said rallied his team and lit a fire under them.

“We talked about what we felt like after the (Dec. 2) game. It was a tough day for us up there at Lambeau,” Frazier said. “Our players stuck together like I hadn’t seen before, and I knew that was a good omen going forward. We’re playing more like a team than at any point in our season.”

Of course, Christian Ponder is going to have to make plays to win this game, but not many; outside of several huge completions in the fourth quarter last week against the Packers in the Vikes’ trilling 37-34 win, Ponder was asked to make mostly routine throws. When you have Adrian Peterson in the backfield, that’s all you need to be able to do. But let me get back to my original hypothesis: the more the Vikings feed Adrian Peterson, the better. They have to hold a lead, get him as many touches as they can, and run the clock. If they do that, I think the Vikes can at least cover the spread this weekend.

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