Turner: 'In his element,' Adrian Peterson can be 'good' pass blocker
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MANKATO, Minn. - Adrian Peterson has played a full 16-game regular season schedule once since 2009.
As first-year offensive coordinator Norv Turner aims for a higher volume of plays on any given Sunday, Peterson's durability and workload are a primary focus in training camp.
However, a more focused (and potentially limiting) role doesn't mean Turner agrees with the theory that Peterson struggles blocking for quarterbacks.
"When you keep him in his element," Turner said. "We don't want him blocking defensive ends, we don't want him blocking 280-pound outside linebackers. When he's blocking the people he should be blocking, he's very good in pass protection."
Peterson has been blocking for his quarterback more and more as his career progresses. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Peterson stayed in the backfield to block a career-high 113 times - compared to then-backup Toby Gerhart's 44 pass protection snaps in 2013.
Peterson played nearly every snap under former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, so pass blocking came with the territory. But under Turner, the Vikings plan to use a backup running back, such as Matt Asiata, to fill that role so Peterson can be used primarily as a weapon on the ground and through the air.
"We want to be a team that runs a lot of plays," Turner said. "And the way you do that, to me, is you get first downs on first and second down. If [Peterson] is getting a bunch of carries and playing a lot on first and second down, we have the ability to use Matt or potentially Jerick [McKinnon] on third down."
Turner added: "We're certainly getting Adrian ready to play third downs in packages, and obviously that includes two minute."
Peterson's presence on the field is essential for drawing opposing defenses closer to the line of scrimmage. But instead of using Peterson as a decoy to make the passing game more effective, Turner wants his star back directly involved as a receiver.
"There are enough things he does well as a receiver," Turner said. "I feel like he's going to make big plays in the passing game. That's the two things the backs do, get in positions to make big plays and give the quarterback an outlet when he's getting pressure. I believe Adrian will certainly be able to do that."