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Vikings' Peterson wants to play special teams too

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Vikings' Peterson wants to play special teams too

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Adrian Peterson has been Minnesota's most irreplaceable player for years, piling up 2,097 yards rushing this season alone to put himself in the mix for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award.

This unparalleled contribution to the Vikings and their success, however, hasn't been enough to satisfy Peterson. One of the sport's most relentless competitors, he would like to play on special teams, too.

``For the past two years I've been trying to get in on field goal block. Come in off the edge, you know? It's just going to take one block for them to really be like, `OK, you know what? Let's take the chance and let you go out there and get it done,''' Peterson said. ``Kickoff return, I wouldn't mind getting back there. I'm in it to win.''

Peterson was only asked about this Wednesday because special teams coordinator Mike Priefer revealed Peterson's constant request to reporters a few minutes earlier.

``He always asks,'' Priefer said. ``He's a football player. Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome. I always say yes, and then I ask the head coach and he says no. I know what the answer is going to be. I don't even have to ask.''

Peterson actually returned 16 kickoffs as a rookie in 2007, averaging 25.8 per attempt including a 53-yard gain at Chicago, where he had his first 200-yard game that afternoon. The Vikings used him in that role once during the regular season in 2008 and again that year in the playoffs, but never since.

He's too valuable to risk injury on one of football's most dangerous plays, so approval from coach Leslie Frazier is unlikely. Even Percy Harvin, the team's primary kickoff returner until he sprained his left ankle in November, was given breaks from that role to keep him fresh and safe. But Peterson has that rare blend of speed, power and instinct that could pay off with a game-changing touchdown, should the Vikings ever decide to surprise their opponent.

Priefer said he has the play cards with him on the sideline in case a scenario arose that persuaded them to put Peterson in for a kick return.

``We would show him exactly where the return is supposed to hit and let him do his magic. There's absolutely an opportunity for him to go back there, I would think, in a crucial situation,'' Priefer said.

Peterson beamed at the podium Wednesday when the subject of special teams came up.

``I believe in having your best players on the field, especially in critical times. You never know what can happen,'' he said. ``That's what I would do.''

Even if Peterson never gets his chance as a kickoff returner, he's served the Vikings well with more than just running the ball. He served as a counselor of sorts for Christian Ponder, whose two interceptions deep in Packers territory cost the Vikings the game at Green Bay on Dec. 2. Seeing a look of defeat on the quarterback's face, Peterson approached his teammate and encouraged him to keep his spirits up, telling Ponder how much he's appreciated the passion he plays with.

``I just did what I felt I needed to do to help him get over that. Because this is the guy we're rolling with, and we need him to continue to improve each week,'' Peterson said, adding: ``I feel like he got back on track, got his mind right, didn't let it dwell on too long.''

Coming off a career-high 34 carries, and playing through some abdominal soreness, Peterson was also asked how his body is holding up, one year after reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

``My body feels great,'' he said, smiling. ``I could play for 12 more games if I have to.''

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Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Redskins head coach Ron Rivera was asked a plethora of questions when he addressed the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, such as what impressed him about quarterback Dwayne Haskins and what players the team will consider with the No. 2 pick.

While Rivera talked in detail about meeting with top quarterback prospects and what his view on free agency is, the head coach did not offer much insight about two offensive linemen: Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff.

Rivera confirmed recent reports that he had spoken with Williams, the team's cornerstone left tackle, but would not go much further than that.

"Trent Williams and I have talked. We had a good conversation," Rivera said. "Again, that's a work in progress and we'll see how things unfold. It's a fluid situation."

Williams, of course, did not play a snap for the Redskins in 2019, holding out after believing Redskins doctors misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his head for nearly six years. But after the organization had practically a complete reboot this offseason, firing longtime team president Bruce Allen and athletic trainer Larry Hess.

Rivera stated he has a plan to get Williams to return. A report last week stated No. 71 will return to the Redskins because of Rivera. But thus far, nothing has amounted.

"I think where it is, we're still working through details," Rivera said. "We're in a good place. We had a good conversation and we're going to go from that."

The head coach was also asked questions about right guard Brandon Scherff, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Scherff reportedly turned down a hefty extension last year that would have paid him upwards of $13 million annually, but did tell NBC Sports Washington last October he wants to remain in Washington for the entirety of his career.

Rivera was asked about his plan with Scherff and whether the franchise tag was a potential option. The head coach gave a vague response while avoiding answering the question directly.

"Well, the biggest thing again, is that we like our guys," Rivera said. "We like our guys that are free agents. We want to try to bring those guys back, we'll see how things go."

The head coach's answer did not sound like he's confident the Redskins will be able to retain the three-time Pro Bowler.

"You have to look at everything," Rivera said. "What happens if they don't come back? It's a pretty fair free agency, but you never know, because guys are trying to re-sign their own players."

The Redskins have until March 12 to place the franchise tag on Scherff, should they decide to go that route. Until then, the two sides are expected to continue to work on reaching a long-term deal.

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Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom is getting his chance.

The 22-year-old infield prospect is competing for the Nationals’ starting job at third base this spring following the departure of Anthony Rendon in free agency. A natural shortstop, Kieboom has started just nine games at third in his professional career but is shifting across the infield because that’s where the Nationals need him.

So far, the early returns have been—well, not great. On Sunday, Kieboom dropped a line drive off the bat of Miami Marlins slugger Jesús Aguilar then sailed the throw over the head off first baseman Eric Thames for his first error of the spring. He picked up his second miscue against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, when he charged a groundball and missed his target while throwing on the run.

The plays aren’t pretty, but that’s what spring training is for.

Competitions are held, young players get their shot, everyone has something they’re working to improve. Kieboom is trying to earn a job at a position he hasn’t played regularly since he was a kid. Mistakes shouldn’t be reasons for alarm, they should be expected.

That being said, Kieboom will only be granted the it’s-still-early grace period for so long. Opening Day is less than a month away, meaning manager Davey Martinez is going to have to make a decision in the next few weeks about what he’s going to do with Kieboom.

If these errors continue, then he won’t be forced into playing Kieboom in the majors. The Nationals have a backup plan in Asdrúbal Cabrera ready to assume the position should Kieboom need more time in the minors to work at the position. Washington is already faced with few clear opportunities for Howie Kendrick to get at-bats, so sending Kieboom down makes it easier for him to make regular starts.

But for now, there’s no reason to panic over Kieboom’s first few errors. As NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes pointed out on the Nationals Talk podcast, the Nationals’ spring training leader in errors was none other than Victor Robles (he had three). You know, the Victor Robles who was a Gold Glove finalist in center field?

Kieboom is getting his chance. It’s just a question of how many the Nationals are going to give him.

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