Adrian Peterson will have the same role with the Vikings in 2016 that he had in 2015, says Mike Zimmer.
On Wednesday Vikings GM Rick Spielman was asked whether he thinks a 31-year-old Adrian Peterson can still handle the same workload he took on in 2015, when he led the league in carries (and rushing yards).
Spielman’s answer? Ask head coach Mike Zimmer. Okay. So on Thursday Mike Zimmer was asked about Adrian Peterson’s workload and he said (via ESPN):
"“I think [Peterson] can still handle the same role he’s had,” Zimmer said Thursday from the team’s hotel in Indianapolis. “I think we have to do a better job of continuing to try to get him some more space to run in. So he’s not running into 100 guys all the time.”"
I’m not sure “role” and “workload” are exactly the same thing, but let’s not worry about semantics right now.
Zimmer’s point is, Adrian Peterson can still carry the ball a lot, but the Vikings need to do a better job of blocking so he can find some holes and not get beaten up as much.
But, Zimmer also mentioned Jerick McKinnon and said the youngster can “take some plays off Peterson.”
In other words, look for Adrian Peterson to continue coming off the field on third down, unless he improves his pass blocking and receiving.
Can Adrian Peterson at 31 really improve in two areas of the game where he’s always struggled?
I have my doubts. But if he can still run it 20 times per game and pop a big one now and then, hopefully without getting quite so banged up and hopefully without fumbling in critical situations, then I guess he’ll be worth the $11 million he will count against the cap in 2016.