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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zimmer: Adrian Peterson can still handle the ‘same role’

By Andrew Krammer

INDIANAPOLIS — Mike Zimmer anticipates Adrian Peterson will be able to handle another heavy workload despite turning 31 next month.

Last year, Peterson led the league in carries and rushing yards, taking a handoff 39 times more than any other running back in the NFL. There were even a couple games where Zimmer felt the Vikings didn’t run the ball enough. While they look to get more from the passing attack and third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Zimmer didn’t hesitate when asked if Peterson’s role needs to be reduced as he gets older.

“I think [Peterson] can still handle the same role he’s had,” Zimmer said Thursday from the team’s hotel in Indianapolis. “I think we have to do a better job of continuing to try to get him some more space to run in. So he’s not running into 100 guys all the time.”

Peterson returned to the Vikings and assumed his workhorse role, accounting for 46 percent of the touches on offense between the team’s carries and receptions. Most importantly for the Vikings and Peterson, he remained relatively healthy and didn’t miss a game.

One eye is always on the future, though, as general manager Rick Spielman said ‘eventually’ they’ll move on from Peterson, the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player. Peterson is under contract for the next two seasons. However, he’ll see the remaining guaranteed money on his deal next season.

The Vikings want to be prepared should the decision on Peterson be forced by injury.

“Running back, you’re one injury away. We’ll eventually get down there,” Spielman said. “I think Adrian is still a very productive running back in this league. I mean, he won the rushing title again this year and it’s amazing the stamina and the physical specimen that he still is. But at some point, everybody has to retire and I don’t know when that point is [for him]. Adrian may defy the odds and play until he is 50, I don’t know. But we’re very excited about some of the young guys.

“When you’re building a roster, regardless of whether you have an Adrian Peterson or not, you’ve always got to anticipate the potential disaster of a player going down because of injury. And are you still going to be an effective football team even if he’s not there?”

Enter Jerick McKinnon, who accounted for 8.1 yards per touch in the final four games as he began to carve out a niche in the offense. McKinnon, a 2014 third-round pick, flashed his elusiveness in five starts as a rookie, when Peterson was held off the field for most of the season. Peterson’s return shelved McKinnon as the Vikings used Matt Asiata for the primary third-down back.

McKinnon is the one Peterson referenced when saying he wanted to be a ‘better fit’ for the offense.

And McKinnon started seeing more work near the end of the season, which is a potential springboard for a larger role in 2016.

“I do feel good about McKinnon’s role and being able to take some plays off [Peterson],” Zimmer said. “Because [McKinnon] is good. And also Asiata, if we get him back.”

The post Zimmer: Adrian Peterson can still handle the ‘same role’ appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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