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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Is Adrian Peterson in a rush to become a more complete player?

By Judd Zulgad

Adrian Peterson hadn’t been heard from much this offseason until the past week when he gave a few interviews after donating money, clothes and food to assist those who lost family and property following the flooding in his hometown of Palestine, Texas.

One of the outlets the Vikings running back spoke to was the Monday Morning Quarterback website run by Peter King. Peterson addressed a few football-related topics, including his expectations to remain effective at the age of 31; the possibility of playing until he’s 40; and the Vikings’ chances of finally winning a Super Bowl.

Peterson, who has two seasons left on his contract ($7.75 million base salary in 2016 and $11.75 million base salary in 2017), also talked about how hard he has trained this offseason.

“I can reflect back now, and see how much better this offseason is for me,” said Peterson, who rarely spends time at the Vikings’ Organized Team Activities because he prefers to train in Texas. “I opened up a gym closer to my house (in Houston), and now I have one location where I can pretty much do everything. I used to have to drive to a gym, then get in the car to drive to the hill I ran at, then get in the car again to go to the track at Rice Stadium, and then go to the sand pit I used, and then it was a 45-minute drive home.

“It was all too much work, just going from one place to the next. Now I have one location where I can pretty much do everything—and there’s a track two miles away. You got the gym and yoga and pilates all under one roof. (The daily workout lasts) three-and-a-half to five hours.”

(ESPN’s Ben Goessling also wrote about the gym Peterson and his trainer, James Cooper, have opened.)

It’s no surprise to find out Peterson is putting himself through a grueling offseason program. This is the norm for him. But it’s what Peterson didn’t say about his workouts that leave me most curious.

As Peterson departed Winter Park after the Vikings’ playoff loss to Seattle, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2015 talked about his desire to become more than just a great runner. He again talked about not fumbling the ball and being a more complete player.

Peterson rushed for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns last season after being suspended for almost the entire 2014 season, but he also fumbled seven times, his most since 2009, and lost three of them.

That doesn’t include the fourth quarter fumble that Peterson lost in the playoff game against Seattle, a turnover that resulted in the Seahawks’ kicking what turned out to be the game-winning field goal.

“The first thing that comes to mind is making sure that I put emphasis on protecting the ball. That’s going to be my number one objective going into this offseason,” Peterson said in January. “I’ve joked around and said, ‘Yeah I done put the ball on the turf but how many have I lost? There’s guys that have lost more fumbles than me this year.’ But when it comes back and it bites you in this type of way, it’s something I want to put an emphasis on for this offseason.”

It also was no secret that Peterson’s style didn’t exactly mesh with that of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings, however, did not realize this until after the regular season began.

Bridgewater is most effective from the shotgun, while Peterson is more effective with his quarterback lined up under center. Peterson also has never been very good in pass protection or particularly adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. His 30 receptions last season marked the fourth-highest total of his nine-year career.

When it comes to matching skillsets, it’s no secret that Bridgewater and Jerick McKinnon have a good rapport because McKinnon is more versatile than Peterson.

“You look at the young guys [like] Jerick, he comes in a lot on third down and he presents a different piece to our offense, running routes and things like that,” Peterson said last winter. “I envision myself doing things like that at a different level so that’s what I mean by being more involved and being more diverse when it comes to the offense we have.”

It’s clear from what Peterson told King, that he has spent many hours training this offseason to take a shot at fourth NFL rushing title. But how much has he worked to become a more complete player and a guy who can more often complement Bridgewater? Are we past the point where it’s even realistic to expect Peterson to expand his repertoire?

Those are the most important questions and they won’t be answered for another four months.

The post Zulgad: Is Adrian Peterson in a rush to become a more complete player? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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