Vikings hope Peterson can carry victory vs. Bears

Vikings hope Peterson can carry victory vs. Bears

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The last time the Minnesota Vikings won a game at Chicago, some rookie rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns.

His name was Adrian Peterson, and he'd love to do that against the Bears again.

``It's a sound defense, but I feel like we can run the ball on them. We just have to be patient and keep pounding the rock and be balanced offensively,'' Peterson said Friday after practice.

That's about what they did on Oct. 14, 2007, the breakout performance of Peterson's nearly unparalleled career. He was no secret to the NFL as the seventh pick in that year's draft, but the Vikings were still using Chester Taylor heavily and listing Peterson on the depth chart as a backup until that afternoon. He followed three weeks later with an NFL-record 296 yards against San Diego.

``You knew the unique skill set that you saw scouting him,'' general manager Rick Spielman said recently, reflecting on the easy decision to draft Peterson when he slipped down the top of the board due to concerns about a broken collarbone he suffered his last season at Oklahoma. Spielman added: ``The drive to be successful, the drive to be the best, the drive to win a championship: all those things came out when we interviewed him.''

Five years later, Peterson has already put a devastating knee injury in his past with this post-surgical season. He entered this week with 1,128 yards rushing, by far the most in the league.

``No one ever envisioned that, but that's what makes Adrian so unique and so special,'' Spielman said. ``He put in his mind that he was going to not only come back but be better than he was before the injury.''

Peterson said Friday he doesn't remember many details from that breakout performance in 2007, except for his pants nearly coming down during a kickoff return and, of course, the fact that the Vikings were victorious.

``It was a big win for us. It was a way for me to get out there and make a name for myself somewhat. But that was what, five years ago? It's a totally different team,'' Peterson said.

He's more focused on the present and the turnover-forcing terror the Bears' defense has become. They have an NFL-leading 30 takeaways. This veteran group doesn't have to be reminded about the fumbling problem Peterson had earlier in his career.

``They've got guys out there trying to reach and get the ball out. It depends on what type of guy you're playing. It can lead to a big play,'' Peterson said.

Quarterback Christian Ponder will have to be careful, too. But not too careful.

``They're very opportunistic, but I don't think we're going to do anything different. We can't play scared. We need to go out and be aggressive and be smart,'' Ponder said.

Coach Leslie Frazier said he sees the turnover-causing success as contagious.

``If one guy punches a ball out, then you see other guys raking and stripping,'' Frazier said, adding: ``One or two guys get it started and it's kind of grown throughout their defense. It's definitely been a turning point for their team.''

The Vikings have a tough task with consecutive road games against Chicago and Green Bay, the NFC North co-leaders. But the schedule as such also gives them the immediate opportunity to win the next two weeks and take control of this difficult division. This is clearly their turning point.

``It has so many ramifications, this game, for our football team and what we want to get accomplished in 2012. That's what makes it so important,'' Frazier said.

NOTES: Peterson spoke to reporters for the first time since his resisting-arrest charges, stemming from a summer incident in Houston, were dropped. He said he was disappointed he had to testify in front of a grand jury, which kept the details private. ``But it's a blessing to have it out of the way and I can go forward,'' he said.


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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

USA Today Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' offensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

Associated Press

Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' offensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 19, 38 days before the NFL draft.  

Free agency notes and nuggets

Looking at the 2018 depth chart—offense

The Redskins are likely to make a few more free agent acquisitions and there is the draft, but the depth chart is beginning to settle in. Let’s take a look at where the offensive side of the ball stands now. The defense is up tomorrow

Quarterback: Alex Smith
Backups: Colt McCoy

The only question here is if the Redskins will draft a late-round project quarterback to develop as the backup. McCoy is in the last year of his contract and he may not be back in 2019.

Running back: Samaje Perine
Backups: Chris Thompson, Rob Kelley, draft pick

This is an area to watch. Thompson could end up being the only carryover if they get a draft pick who can start and decide to keep 2017 late-season addition Kapri Bibbs or if they find another veteran. They also could go with only three running backs.

Wide receivers: Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder
Backups: Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Brian Quick

They may not carry six, so Harris, Davis, and Quick might battle it out for two spots. It’s possible that they will put a draft pick into the mix as well.

MORE REDSKINS: The Redskins week that was

Tight end: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

As of right now, this appears to be one of the few position groups you can write in with a Sharpie. If the Redskins are going to be better in 2018, a lot of the improvement will have to come from improvement of 2017 draft picks like Sprinkle. If he can develop into a solid blocker and a moderate receiving threat he will be an asset.

Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Arie Kouandjio, C Chase Roullier RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Backups: T Ty Nsekhe, G/T Tyler Catalina, G Kyle Kalis, T T.J. Clemmings

Kouandjio is a placeholder at left guard for the moment. He was solid pass blocking but struggled in run blocking in six starts in injury fill-in duty. I think that if they bring in another interior O-lineman in free agency or in the draft, Roullier will remain at center. I think Jay Gruden likes the way he is developing there and wants to continue.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 28
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 130
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 174

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