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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Peterson’s willingness to speak out comes as no surprise

By Judd Zulgad

Vikings officials spent months trying to smooth things over with Adrian Peterson last offseason because they were confident the running back still had life left in his 30-year-old legs.

This came despite the fact that there were many, including yours truly, who felt the team should grant Peterson his wish and trade him after he was essentially suspended for a year because of a child-abuse charge. That was based on the feeling that an aging running back wasn’t worth the trouble and that this should become Teddy Bridgewater’s offense.

General manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer disagreed. They worked long and hard to regain Peterson’s trust and make sure he knew he was a valued member of the organization. A contract restructure that included guaranteed money didn’t hurt.

Spielman and Zimmer’s decision has paid off.

The Vikings are sitting at 8-4 and tied for first place in the NFC North with Green Bay, in large part thanks to Peterson. He leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,182), carries (245) and first downs (57) and is tied for second in touchdowns (eight).

But the Vikings are learning that Peterson’s willingness to stick around also came at a price. Twice in the past three weeks, Peterson has complained the Vikings got “outcoached” after losses in which his workload wasn’t up to its usual standards.

Two weeks ago, Peterson finished with 13 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown in a 30-13 loss to the visiting Green Bay Packers. That reportedly led to a meeting in which Peterson discussed his concern about his lack of work with Zimmer.

All appeared to be back to form a week ago, when Peterson rushed for 158 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns in a 20-10 win at Atlanta.

The happiness was short-lived.

On Sunday, Peterson was a non-factor as the Vikings got steamrolled by the Seattle Seahawks, 38-7, at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings trailed 21-0 at the half.

Peterson, in his ninth season, had eight carries for 18 yards, the fewest rushing attempts he has had in a game in which he didn’t have to leave because of injury. The 18 yards was the second-lowest total Peterson has posted in a game in which he wasn’t forced to make an early exit.

Peterson was quite candid in expressing his displeasure about how he was used.

Asked if eight carries was enough, Peterson asked the questionnaire what he thought of that number. It was hard to argue with Peterson’s point, especially with the slumping Bridgewater lacking confidence and struggling to handle Seattle’s pressure. Peterson can’t be faulted if he’s had enough of playing with young quarterbacks who are in the developmental stage.

Given Peterson’s lack of use, and his criticism of the coaching staff, there is a good chance that has led to another sit down with Zimmer. But the Vikings have to realize that, for better or worse, they have no one to blame but themselves if Peterson acts out.

NFL teams spend much of their existence trying to keep issues in-house and away from the media spotlight, but Peterson isn’t playing by those rules.

It was the Vikings who spent countless hours convincing Peterson that it was the best thing for him to remain in Minnesota. Peterson’s desire was to be almost anywhere but here meaning he likely feels no reason to remain a loyal company guy when things aren’t to his liking.

In Peterson’s mind, it’s up to Spielman and Zimmer to keep him happy, not the other way around.

This doesn’t mean the two of them wouldn’t take the same steps to keep the future Hall of Famer if given the chance to turn back the clock. Peterson has been instrumental to the Vikings’ success and it’s unlikely this team would be at eight wins without him.

However, Peterson also is making it clear that he isn’t going to remain quiet if he’s not satisfied. The Vikings might not be pleased about this, but it’s the tradeoff they agreed to when they didn’t trade Peterson.

The post Zulgad: Peterson’s willingness to speak out comes as no surprise appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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