Friday, August 06, 2010

Peterson's Fumbles Easy Target

Minnesota Vikings training camp continues. While everyone worries about the Brett Favre saga, the team's most important long-term asset continues to struggle through one of his few on-field flaws.

Adrian Peterson may have cut a couple of fumbles off his 2008 regular-season total in 2009, but his errors against Chicago late in the season and against New Orleans in the NFC title game were costly.

You can pass his 4.4 yards per carry average -- very unimpressive for a player of his caliber -- off on the Vikings offensive line being banged up a little bit last year, especially stout left guard Steve Hutchinson.

What you can't do is excuse the fumbling, no matter how hard you try. When you take into account that Peterson skipped his team's mandatory minicamp, and is now grousing about a new contract, it becomes even harder to look past the fumbling.

Peterson is trying to stop the worrying about his game.

Speaking of some media criticism he has received, especially about his fumbling, Peterson said: "I know, they've got to find something to point at. It doesn't bother me. My skin is real thick, so I can take it."

As for a possible contract extension -- he is set to make $6.5 million this season -- Peterson would be all for it. "Yeah, you know who wouldn't [want a new contract] with the collective bargaining situation at hand?"

For the Vikings, it's quite the conundrum.

There really isn't anything on tape that stands out. He doesn't carry the ball like a loaf of bread. He often gets burned by his extra effort, but that extra effort helps win his team games more often than it hurts them.

This is the problem.

When Ahman Green went through his problems in Green Bay, the Packers eventually chalked it up to him sweating too much, and they tried different pads on his forearm to keep sweat away from the football. It seemed to work, only after a Monday Night Football game where Green had to change from a rubber pad to a cloth one when it rained.

The Vikings can't just throw a different pad on Peterson's forearm to stop this problem. That won't get the job done.

Instead, they have to hope he has whatever mental hurdle cleared. At this point, teams know they can make plays by getting the ball out of Peterson's hands and onto the carpet. He has to find a way around that, and "not carrying the ball" is not an option.

The fumbling is the easiest of targets for defensive coaches. They can tell guys to try to rip the ball out of the carrier's hands. It will allow Peterson a few chances to break tackles and make some big plays while defensive players tackle the football. But it will also force him to show his problem has been overcome.

Whatever that problem is.

Something tells me it developed more easily than it will be made to go away.

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