Pressure's on Peterson again, story of his Vikings career

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minnesota (AP) " Whether Sam Bradford or Shaun Hill takes the snaps in the Minnesota Vikings' season opener, Adrian Peterson will line up behind yet another starting quarterback.

The count will reach a dozen on Sunday at Tennessee, the dawn of his 10th year in the NFL, and Peterson didn't hesitate to acknowledge the difficulty of enduring so many switches throughout his career. Teddy Bridgewater's season-ending injury prompted the latest one.

"That definitely affects me," Peterson said. "Maybe I have to do more. Maybe I don't have to do as much."

Aside from Brett Favre's spectacular performance in 2009, Peterson has almost always had to do more.

From Tarvaris Jackson to Kelly Holcomb to Brooks Bollinger to Gus Frerotte to Donovan McNabb to Joe Webb to Christian Ponder to Josh Freeman to Matt Cassel, the Vikings have failed to find a long-term solution in American football's most important position.

Bridgewater was on his way, poised for a significant step forward in year three after a sparkling preseason, but the damage to the left knee during a freak occurrence in practice last week has muddied his future.

Bradford will ultimately be the starter this season, but his late arrival and spotty NFL success make him a less-desirable alternative to Bridgewater.

Thus, once again, the Vikings will be looking to their stalwart running back to lead their offense.

"Any time I go into a season or a game, I want to be that guy that's a difference-maker," Peterson said. "That won't change."

Bradford was on the roster as a redshirt at Oklahoma University in 2006, Peterson's last year in college. Bradford eventually won the Heisman Trophy before becoming the first overall pick by St. Louis in 2010. Peterson, naturally, was excited to find out last week about the trade that brought Bradford to Minnesota from Philadelphia.

"I tip my hat to our GM, Rick Spielman, doing a great job bringing a guy in that can contribute," Peterson said.

After leading the league with 1,485 yards rushing in 2015, following a nearly year-long absence amid the child abuse case involving his young son, Peterson turned 31. His age has become as much of a motivator as any factor, given the evidence pointing against post-30 productivity in the NFL.

"He's looked great, like he always does," coach Mike Zimmer said. "He's got acceleration, the vision. All those things look exactly the same to me. He's an unbelievable worker in the offseason."

Peterson said this week he could see himself playing another two, five, or seven years, depending on his feelings about the work-life balance, though the interest of a team continuing to pay him will of course influence his career length.

For now, the focus is on the Titans. When the Vikings fell flat in last season's opener at San Francisco, a 20-3 loss to the 49ers, Peterson had only 31 yards on 10 rushes. He said his condition in that game, his first in 372 days, was substandard.

"That's the big difference, going into this week. My legs are fresh. I'm making sure that I get my conditioning in, so I'll be able to run all day," Peterson said with a smile, referencing his nickname.

"I've been doing that, getting my mind ready for all that this week."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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