Adrian Peterson wants to be great. All-time great. And from the monster games his rookie season to his dominant second year, Peterson generally has been great in his young career. (With the NFC Championship a notable exception.)
Sidney Rice’s injury presents a major roadblock to a successful Vikings’ regular season, but it also presents Peterson an opportunity. This is his time to jump from great to transcendent; to lift up a team that needs him more this season because of the schedule, because of Rice, because Brett Favre is bound to decline.
To make that next step, Peterson has to succeed on third downs. He can’t come off the field when the game matters most. Peterson has made great strides as a receiver, but his pass protection still needs work, as Favre learned last Sunday night against the 49ers.
Early indications are that Peterson will finally get his chance to play every down.
Len Pasquarelli, now of the Sports XChange, writes that second-round pick Toby Gerhart “simply isn’t ready to
handle the third-down role.”
I’m pessimistic the Vikings can repeat their 2009 success or even win the NFC North. The one thought I can’t shake in their favor, however, is that Peterson could do something special. We quickly have forgotten how he entered the league like a supernova, with seemingly endless potential to help redefine his position.
Peterson now enters his fourth season, angling for a contract, sick of hearing that Chris Johnson is the best running back in the league.
Can Peterson carry the franchise? Can he string together a season’s worth of magical Sundays that he so often provided as a rookie and second year player?
Can he be AP2K?