Notebook: Coaches want Peterson to practice better ball security in traffic
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EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. -- The Minnesota Vikings don't want Adrian Peterson to change his running style, but their offseason study into his ball-security issues confirmed he must do a better job hanging onto the ball in traffic.
"The No.1 thing is that Adrian Peterson never gives up a play," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Saturday, "and so it is important for him to know that that is his running style and that when you are not giving up plays, at the end of it, when there is more than one guy on the pile, there are going to be people raking at it and trying to take it away from you.
"So first of all, just to put it in his mind, we are not going to change the way he runs. That's how he is. But there are some things that he can do technique-wise -- some drills that you saw that coach (Eric) Bieniemy is working on him with that we can make sure that he does a better job holding on to it."
Peterson fumbled nine times last season -- including two in the NFC championship game -- and lost six, increasing his two-year total to 18.
During his cameo appearance earlier this week at Winter Park, coaches had Peterson working on a drill involving a 14-pound football filled with sand, which coach Brad Childress likened to putting weight on a baseball bat in the on-deck circle.
The better he does hanging onto the heavier ball, the thinking goes, the better he'll do with the real one on Sundays.
"With his style, he is going to finish every run," Bevell said. "He is not going to step outside, he's going to run over guys, he is going to run through them. He is going to try to get them off of him, He is going to continue to scratch for every run, so that's where a lot of those fumbles were lost."
Childress made clear on Friday he was unhappy with Peterson's decision to skip this weekend's mandatory minicamp in favor of attending Adrian Peterson Day festivities in his hometown of Palestine, Texas. Bevell opted to downplay it.
"Obviously, we are just building our offense to the basics for some of these younger guys that are here," Bevell said. "We are trying to do some things to challenge the older guys -- maybe formationally, that kind of stuff. So, any guy that's missing, whether it's Adrian or anyone else, it's something that they are going to have catch up on when they get here. We would love to have every guy here, but they're not."
BIGGER PERCY, BETTER PERCY?
Bevell concurred with Childress' assessment about Percy Harvin's bigger build, saying the receiver "looks pretty rocked-up" after spending his first NFL offseason working out in Gainesville, Fla.
"He looks like he has been working hard," Bevell said of Harvin, who reported for minicamp at about 205 pounds -- up from 188 when he joined the team last year.
"He is running around out here well. You can still see his ability to make plays, catch the ball. I like what we see out of him right now."
Harvin finished with rookie season with 60 receptions for 790 yards and six touchdowns, plus another two touchdowns on kick returns to earn NFL offensive rookie of the year honors.
Asked if that performance gave him confidence to build on, Harvin said, "Definitely got a lot of confidence, but I still have that chip on my shoulder. I'm going to play just like I'm coming in fresh, trying to win a job."
Declining to reveal the nature of the injury, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier indicated cornerback Chris Cook is being held out as a precaution and didn't seem concerned about the second-round draft pick missing out on practice.
Coaches installed the defense the past month during organized team activity practices, which Cook attended.
"He didn't miss any of those 12 practices," Frazier said. "Whatever 'Sug' (trainer Eric Sugarman) is doing with him right now is negligible."
Frazier also was vague about the reasons for Chad Greenway's non-participation, saying only that the veteran linebacker is "has been doing well and I know Coach Childress is working with him on whatever he is working with him on."
Like Griffin and Greenway, left guard Steve Hutchinson (shoulder surgery) and cornerback Cedric Griffin (ACL reconstruction) have participated only in stretching, while defensive tackle Pat Williams (elbow surgery) and middle linebacker E.J. Henderson (leg) continue to sit out team drills.
• Despite strong indications the Vikings remain committed to veteran Ryan Longwell as their place-kicker, special-teams coordinator Brian Murphy went out of his way to declare kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd has a shot at handling both jobs. "I'm not going to start off with any preconceived notion," Murphy said. "We're just going to let those guys compete, carve out their role. But right now, both have been instructed that field goals and kickoffs, it's going to be the total package -- what you can bring to the table? Then, we'll make decisions based upon the roster from there."
• Bevell said his friend, QB Brett Favre, "is doing fine, doing well. He's just taking care of his ankle right now."
• SS Tyrell Johnson took advantage of a bobble by Harvin to record the afternoon practice's only interception in team (11-on-11) drills off QB Tarvaris Jackson. OLB Erin Henderson had a shot to intercept Jackson's next pass, too, but a bad-idea slant bounced off his elbow. CB Benny Sapp added an interception off undrafted rookie R.J. Archer during 7-on-7.
• Quarterback reps continued to slant heavily in favor of Jackson and rookie Joe Webb during the afternoon practice, and both were the victims of multiple drops during team drills. Jackson finished 6-for-10 and Webb 6-for-9. Sage Rosenfels and Archer got only two snaps each and were 1-for-2.