Why the Vikings Should Decrease Adrian Peterson’s Workload

Apr 18, 2011


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Adrian Peterson is a beast. Plain and simple. He has the power to run over you, the moves to run around you, and the speed to run by you. He is 26 and a physical specimen. It’s tempting to hand him the ball thirty times a game and let him do his work. Still, I can’t help but think the Vikings would be better served reducing his workload.
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All Day has averaged nearly 300 carries per season. He has also caught nearly 30 passes per year. While he has been relatively injury-free since coming into the league, all of those touches begin to take a toll on a physical runner like Peterson.  Like at the lifeline of physical runners like Earl Campbell and Jamal Lewis. Their heavy workload and physical style decreased their shelf life. Even Shaun Alexander, who had a five-year run that rivals AP’s production fell quickly off the map. LaDainian Tomlinson is an exception because he has a knack for avoiding the big hits.
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I’m not saying Adrian Peterson is going to stop being effective this year or even next, but in an effort to extend his career, the Vikings should think about sharing more of the carries. After all, isn’t that why they brought in Toby Gerhart?
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There is an obvious drop-off when Gerhart is running the ball, but it is a fair trade-off when you look at the big picture. While Gerhart got off to a slow start, sputtering for 22 yards on seven carries, his yards per carry increased each month as his attempts increased.
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Septerber:  7 carries, 22 yards (3.1 ypc)
October:  10 carries, 35 yards (3.5 ypc)
November:  29 carries, 106 yards (3.6 ypc)
December/January:  35 carries, 160 yards (4.6 ypc)
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Not only did Gerhart show he gets better with more work, but he proved he can be trusted when Peterson needs a breather. He’s not a game-changer like All Day, but he can handle a heavier workload.
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Perhaps you go with Peterson early to establish the run. You slowly start to mix Gerhart in the second quarter. Maybe use him a little more extensively in the third quarter to wear the defense down, and then bring in a fresher Peterson in the fourth to lay the hammer down.
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If you limit Peterson’s carries, perhaps he finishes stronger. Look at his monthly averages:
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Septerber:  110.9 yards per game, 5.4 ypc
October:  95.4 ypg, 4.5 ypc
November:  107.0 ypg, 5.3 ypc
December/January:  71.7 ypg, 4.1 ypc
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There’s a lot to love about Adrian Peterson. He was asked to work on catching the ball out of the backfield and he improves dramatically. He was asked to get a handle on his fumbling issues and he loses just one the next year. I just don’t want to see him burn out.
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This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.

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