Notebook: Frazier, Peterson want to restore Vikings' run-first mantra
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - At the seventh game of 2012, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson began his ridiculous tear through the NFL that included eight-straight 100-yard games.
As Peterson prepares to trot into the seventh game of 2013, he does so with an offense that declares itself as "run-first," yet has thrown the ball 97 times during the last two losses. Peterson has seen 23 carries in those games.
"Yeah, it got out of whack there. When we got down 23-7 I think we called 30 [passes]," Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "Trying to move the ball one way or the other, run or pass. As we know, we weren't having a lot of success up to that point with either one, run or pass. Definitely not the plan and it's tough when games go like that."
Quarterback Josh Freeman was somehow directed to throw the ball 53 times in his debut on Monday night while Peterson got just 13 carries in a two-score game.
"We can't get away from it. We know how we're built and we know in order for us to be good at running the football, we have to stay with it. We realize that," Coach Leslie Frazier said. "We need to be more patient with our run game for sure."
So why doesn't the Vikings coaching staff have the same level of patience in the run game as they exhibited last season?
"I don't know, that's a good question," Peterson said. "I have no idea. I can't answer that."
Musgrave said the goal is to be more balanced, but somehow the playcalling has skewed in the opposite direction from their 'run-first' mantra - and the scores have shown that. In the last two games, the Vikings offense has been outscored 58-10.
A run-heavy offense should also eat up clock, however after six games, the Vikings are last in the NFL in time of possession after holding the ball for just 23 minutes each of the last three games.
"Maybe [we were] sticking with the run a little bit longer [last year]. Our goal is to get four or five yards every play with the run," Left tackle Matt Kalil said. "Obviously, with Adrian back there, those big runs will come. So I guess we just have to be a little more consistent in the run game. I think we got the right focus this week."
"I think that's Vikings football, running the ball and being physical up front. That's definitely our game. That's what we did last year and we definitely need to get back to that. We need to do a better job as an offensive line."
When asked if Peterson had to tell coaches to give him the ball more, Peterson responded: "I don't think I had to."
Peterson is averaging just 4.4-yards per carry after gaining six yards per rushing attempt a season ago. Peterson has averaged just 3.8-yards per carry since his 78-yard touchdown run to open the season against the Detroit Lions.
The NFL MVP said the entire offense isn't being as physical as last season, but he took some of the blame himself as he's been dealing with a tight hamstring in his right leg for the past few weeks.
"I feel like it was more in my mind. It's strange to say that, but I think I was kind of holding myself back, not being able to stretch out and really run," Peterson said. "I think I was kind of hindering myself. Now that I'm able to be more relaxed and got a clearer mind, I think I'll be able to go out there and roll full-speed."
Hodges to be activated
Rookie linebacker Gerald Hodges said he was frustrated after being inactive for the fourth time in five games on Monday night. After getting time to cool off, Hodges spoke with his parents who advised him that his time will come.
When he showed up to team facilities on Wednesday morning, Hodges said he didn't have to wait too long.
"I get here this morning and find out I'm on the special teams starting," Hodges said. "That's a good thing right there. I just need to continue to be patient and wait my turn. Coaches have their plans with each and every guy."
Hodges has been featured on kickoff and punt teams before and will likely do some of the same on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers. Hodges, who is listed as outside linebacker, found some room on the field when teammate Desmond Bishop went down for the year with a torn ACL.
It's unlikely he'll see any defensive snaps as linebacker Marvin Mitchell took all 38 base defensive snaps as the weak-side linebacker on Monday night.
"[Hodges] has been moving around with a sense of urgency we've wanted to see before," Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said.
Peterson (hamstring) was a full participant in Thursday's practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Kalil (back) was also upgraded from 'limited' on Wednesday to a full participant on Thursday.
Limited on Thursday: linebacker Chad Greenway (wrist), cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and kicker Blair Walsh (hamstring).
Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), tight end Rhett Ellison (knee), quarterback Josh Freeman (concussion) and receiver Rodney Smith (hip) all sat out on Thursday.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee) and defensive end Jared Allen (ankle) were both full participants.
Rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd joined the injury report with a back injury on Thursday and was limited.