Minnesota offensive scouting report

Dec. 30, 2012
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Adrian Peterson (1,898 yards rushing) needs 208 yards to break Eric Dickersonís NFL single-season record of 2,105 yards set in 1984, and needs 102 yards rushing to become only the seventh player in NFL history to hit the 2,000-yard mark.

Heís averaging 6.0 yards a carry, and only one running back with at least 300 yards rushing this season has a better average ó Buffaloís C.J. Spiller at 6.5 yards a carry and 1,185 yards total. Going into last week against Houston, Peterson had been on an incredible roll in which heíd rushed for 1,213 yards over his last eight games, a 151.6-yard average a game.

Last week the Texans held him to 86 yards and a 3.4-yard average, but he has been slowed the past week or so by an abdominal/groin strain that sounds similar to the abdominal tear Packers receiver Greg Jennings had earlier in the season that eventually required surgery.

Peterson might not practice much this week, but heís expected to play. When the teams met a month ago, Peterson single-handedly kept the Vikings in the game with 210 yards on 21 carries, including an 82-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

The Vikings no doubt would love to get him the rushing record, but the priority is winning to get into the playoffs. Either way, offensive coordinator Bill Musgraveís play calling revolves around Peterson, either giving him the ball or running quarterback Christian Ponder on bootlegs and play-action passes off fakes to Peterson. The Vikings rank No. 3 in the NFL in rushing yards and No. 1 in average yards per carry.

The Vikings rank No. 17 in scoring, No. 23 in total yards and No. 32 in passing yards. Ponder (11-14 as a starter) has had a rough second season but might have hit a turning point in the last game against the Packers, when his two critical second-half interceptions in Packers territory cost the Vikings a great chance at winning.

Since, Ponder still hasnít put up much for numbers but has managed the game better and thrown only one interception total in three straight wins over Chicago, St. Louis and Houston. Ponder is similar to the quarterback the Packers faced last week, Tennesseeís Jake Locker, in that both are second-year pros who are better athletes than quarterbacks at this point.

Ponder isnít quite as big (heís 6-2 and 229 to Lockerís 6-3 and 234) or as fast as Locker, but he is a good runner and like Locker sometimes bolts the pocket too quickly. His 78.8 passer rating (No. 26 in the league) is similar to Lockerís (72.9), but heís the more polished of the two. Ponder wonít have his No. 1 receiver, Percy Harvin, whoís on injured reserve because of an ankle injury.

Harvin didnít play in the teamsí first meeting, either. With Harvin out, tight end Kyle Rudolph is Ponderís favorite target and Jerome Simpson his most talented receiver. Simpson (6-2, 190), an acrobatic athlete, has been mostly a bust as a free-agent signing, though heís had four receptions in each of the last two games.

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