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Rookie Peterson gets plenty of preseason work for Vikings

| Monday, Aug. 20, 2007

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - The Minnesota Vikings have insisted all along they weren't worried about Adrian Peterson's injury history. The final piece of evidence came when the prized rookie got 19 carries in two exhibition games.

Peterson, though, did more than just pass a preseason durability test for his once-broken collarbone. He has scored a touchdown and gained 103 yards, including a 43-yard run against the New York Jets.

"We've been trying to ramp him up little by little and see what we feel like he looks at well and give him a little bit more every week," coach Brad Childress said. "I don't know that we're necessarily shopping an exact number for him, but he is fairly adept with most of the stuff we are doing right now."

The seventh player chosen in the draft juked one man against the Jets with a pirouette move a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage -- as he often did at Oklahoma -- and finished the sprint down the sideline by barreling his left shoulder into another defender as he fell to the turf.

"We didn't have a lot of those runs last year," quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. "Our offensive line has got a year under their belts with the blocking schemes, and they're going to be a lot better this year for all our backs. That's going to make my job a lot easier, and it's going to make our offense more explosive. That's good to see."

Before the fantasy football crowd gets too pumped up about Peterson and his first-year potential, it's worth highlighting Chester Taylor's name on the depth chart. After rushing a franchise-record 303 times for 1,216 yards in 15 games last season and impressing Childress with his toughness, Taylor is still the starter who figures to get more than half of the carries.

Peterson is the "changeup," who will provide a flashier option as the second part of this running back tandem -- one of the latest NFL trends used successfully last year by playoff teams like Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, New England and New Orleans.

Asked Sunday about his running backs, Childress said he hasn't seen anything during training camp to change his mind about the roles for Taylor and Peterson.

"It's all about coming out of this camp with a good idea of who we are as a football team and who we are as an offense -- and then individually, not asking guys to do something that we do not feel like they are very good at," Childress said.

Peterson is obviously very good at running the ball. Staying healthy and picking up the nuances of a complicated NFL offense will be critical factors in his success.

He certainly hasn't shown any hesitation regarding that broken clavicle that kept him out of seven games in his final college season -- or with any other body part, for that matter.

"When you watch the game, I'm out there taking some blows and delivering some blows. So it's not an issue at all," Peterson said.

Notes: The Vikings worked out free agent WR Robert Ferguson after practice. "I enjoyed our conversation this afternoon," Childress said. Ferguson was released by the Green Bay Packers last week. ... New DT Fred Evans, whose court appearance kept him from traveling with the team to New York, also missed Sunday's practice. He's caught up in a "paperwork" delay, according to Childress, following his plea agreement in Miami on Thursday. Evans was fined and put on probation, but he avoided jail time for fighting with police officers in June. He as with the Dolphins -- who cut him five days after the incident.

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