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Updated: July 28th, 2014 10:03pm
Zulgad: Peterson looking forward to being part of unpredictable offense

Zulgad: Peterson looking forward to being part of unpredictable offense

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by Judd Zulgad

Adrian Peterson proved to be one of Leslie Frazier's staunchest defenders last winter when it became clear the Vikings were going to make a coaching change.

Seven months later, one has to wonder why the star running back showed such loyalty. As likable as Frazier might have been, he also oversaw a team that utilized an offensive system that Peterson now admits was predictable.

Peterson made that clear Monday, while admitting he's excited by the scheme veteran coordinator Norv Turner is installing as the Vikings go through training camp in Mankato.

"Let's call it what it is: I thought in the past, we've been predictable," Peterson said, per ESPN's Ben Goesling. "I'm sure you guys wrote stories about us being predictable the past seven years. You won't be able to write that story this year. That's pretty much all I'm saying. You won't be able to do that, because this offense is so versatile."

Seven years, of course, would cover Peterson's entire NFL career.

The seventh-overall pick in the 2007 draft, Peterson played in a version of the West Coast offense under former coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell through 2010 and then spent the past three seasons with Bill Musgrave overseeing the Vikings' offense.

Peterson is far from the first person to admit that Childress/Bevell and Musgrave could be predictable when it came to their play calling and one has to wonder now if he feels that some of his success came in spite of the lack of creativity. This doesn't even get into Peterson's feelings about the fact the Vikings have received one top-tier season from a quarterback (Brett Favre in 2009) since he arrived.

Peterson has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in six of his seven seasons, only coming up short in 2011 when injuries limited him to 12 games. Peterson also became only the seventh running back in NFL history to rush more than 2,000 yards, leading the Vikings to the 2012 playoffs after tearing up his knee the previous year.

Although it would have been extremely difficult, not to mention borderline irresponsible, for Peterson to turn down the seven-year, $100 million contract ($36 million in guarantees) he signed with the Vikings in September 2011, he could have had an opportunity at one point to attempt to force his way out of Minnesota if he really didn't like the direction of the offense.

What will be interesting now is to see if Peterson can prove to be a quality receiver out of the backfield and a solid contributor when it comes to pass protection. His abilities in these areas will be an important part of Turner's plan not to be predictable.

Peterson didn't always get the opportunity to remain on the field on third down or to catch passes. Peterson has had 40 or more receptions in a season twice, including a career-high 43 catches in 2009 when Favre was throwing the passes.

Childress and Bevell had little interest in using Peterson on third down because they saw him as a liability on passing downs. Musgrave wasn't as adamant about substituting when it came to Peterson remaining in on third down, but no one ever has been all that confident that he can consistently pick up blocks.

Turner's philosophy is that Peterson can be used as a receiver - that has been on display in the early days of training camp practices - and that if used the proper manner, he can help protect either Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater. If Turner really does open things up, Peterson will be just one skill-position player who sees his role increased.

In the Vikings' ideal world, Peterson will prove to be more versatile than anyone thought and Turner's offense will be far less predictable than anything the running back has seen in his seven years. But if Peterson struggles as a receiver or in pass protection, Childress, Bevell and Musgrave could have the last word on why they didn't get more creative with at least one key player on offense. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd