Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner says Adrian Peterson still has his burst. The All-Pro running back’s shaky finish in 2015 might suggest otherwise.
Peterson is 31 now, which is well past what is considered the prime of an NFL career at that position these days. Yet the 10th-year veteran just ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015, one season after appearing in only one game due to a suspension.
It defies everything we’ve come to understand about ball carriers in this day and age. Still, even now, Turner says he doesn’t see any signs of a Peterson decline.
“I haven’t seen (any indications of Peterson being 31),” Turner said, via Matt Vensel for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Obviously, it’s training camp. But he keeps such good care of himself. And we did a good job last year of taking care of him through the season. He doesn’t look like he’s slowing down to me.”
Peterson may look phenomenal in practice, and his coaches may say great things, but the numbers at the end of last season tell a slightly different story. Only twice in the Vikings’ final seven games did he eclipse 70 yards on the ground while averaging 3.5 yards per carry or less in those contests. He also rushed 23 times for 45 yards against a stout Seahawks defense in Minnesota’s playoff loss.
Sure, there could be a number of reasons behind Peterson’s drop in production. However, it’s hard to ignore the fact he’s getting old.
Peterson could get off to another hot start in 2016, but the true test will come late in the year. If the seven-time Pro Bowl running back is no longer up for 300-carry workloads, that’s certainly understandable at this stage of his career. It’s also a realization the Vikings may want to come to ahead of time.