As great a player Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is, he has never been an outstanding receiver. He has two seasons with more than 40 receptions, and his career-high is 43 back from 2009. He caught 29 passes last season.
But with Norv Turner now in as the Vikings' offensive coordinator, Peterson knows that he will be asked to do more than just run. That's why Peterson spent a lot of time this offseason working on his hands. It seems to be making an impression already.
"The way he catches the ball is very, very good," first-year head coach Mike Zimmer said of Peterson. "I didn't know what kind of a receiver he was."
Turner agreed that Peterson has good hands, and "if we can get him more space, we can take advantage of his great abilities."
We heard similar statements earlier in the offseason.
Turner has coached LaDainian Tomlinson, Frank Gore, Ryan Mathews, Ricky Williams, Emmitt Smith, and LaMont Jordan, all of whom caught at least 50 passes in a season with Turner as their head coach or OC. That's uncharted territory for AD. The Vikings will continue to roll with Peterson as a three-down back, and you should expect him to spend more of his third downs this season swinging out of the backfield to catch passes from Teddy Bridgewater , Christian Ponder and/or Matt Cassel. Somehow, Peterson still has some potential to unlock. He is arguably the No. 1 overall pick in standard re-draft leagues and certainly no worse than No. 4. He is entering the final season of his 20s.