Last season, Adrian Peterson became the good soldier. By anyone else's standards, a 1,383-yard season is a career year. But as Brett Favre began to take hold of the Vikings' offense, Peterson became somewhat of an afterthought down the stretch, despite the gaudy 16-game totals.
He admitted, as a competitor, he'd like more carries, more responsibity. But he barely said a peep that could have been construed as anything team-wrecking, falling in line second to the Vikings' explosive passing game. The unfortunate punctuation on his frustrating season was a 122-yard, three-TD game against the Saints in the NFC championship that was marred by two fumbles.
But we've seen a new Peterson, maybe better than the 2008 version that rushed for 1,760 yards when the team was his and his alone. And it's becoming clear that for the Vikings to come close to kissing the sky again this season, Peterson is going to have to be the focal point in that same way once again.
Sure, there's the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation of running your best asset into the ground, especially when hired reliever Toby Gerhart (who lost a fumble Sunday) has yet to step up to the plate. Peterson is averaging 23.3 carries a game (up from 19.6 last season and 22.7 in '08) and is on pace to catch almost 70 passes (last season he had a career-high 43 receptions).
Can he keep up this Herculean workload and pace? He has to. The Vikings have no other options.