EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Adrian Peterson has a chance to do something he hasn't done since his run at history in 2012.
The Vikings running back can make it three games in a row with 100 or more rushing yards after performances of 134 and 126 in wins against Detroit and San Diego.
The last time he had three in a row was part of an incredible eight-game streak of triple-digit performances from Oct. 21-Dec. 16, 2012 when he finished the regular season with 2,097 rushing yards, nine behind Eric Dickerson's record.
The final three of that run of eight were 210, 154 and 212. It could have been 10 in a row, which would have been the third-longest streak in NFL history if not for coaches that Peterson will see Sunday in Denver.
Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips held the same roles with the Texans and were able to limit Peterson to 25 carries for 86 yards, an average of 3.4 well below his season average of 4.5 per carry. (Peterson responded the following week with 5.9 yards per carry against the Packers (34 runs for 199).
The personnel is obviously different, and Peterson is aware of the Rocky Mountain roadblock Kubiak and Phillips will try to implement. The Broncos rank first in total yards (259) and passing yards (176.3) allowed and sixth in rushing yards (82.7) allowed through three games.
"I see why they're ranked the number one defense," Peterson said. "Up front, they're stout, strong and fast. They have a great linebacker corps and their secondary is stellar as well."
Peterson mentioned outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller as challenges in the run game and as pass rushers who "make a lot of noise coming off the edge."
"(Miller is) one of those guys you look at and he's different than a lot of other linebackers in this league, so anytime you're able to play against someone that's gifted like that, you respect it more and look forward to it," Peterson said.
Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner agreed with that the upcoming challenge will take peak performance from the Vikings to overcome. He said Miller is "a dynamic player, a dynamic rusher."
"Probably the quickest first step in football, and if he doesn't have it, (Ware) on the other side does," Turner said. "It's going to be a challenge for our guys."
Peterson's only game in the "Mile High City" closed out his rookie season of 2007. He had 11 carries for 36 yards. Peterson also faced Phillips, the former Dallas head coach (2007-10), that year when the Vikings visited the Cowboys and had 12 carries for 63 yards and a 20-yard touchdown.
In four games (three regular season, one postseason) against Phillips, Peterson has 87 carries for 285 yards (3.3 avg.) with a long of 21 and two touchdowns.
Peterson was asked about percentages of run and pass plays defining balance, and said he doesn't care as long as Minnesota is productive.
"Having Coach Turner and the great mind he has to make sure as an offense we're able to go out and execute to the best of our ability, we've been able to kind of run the ball more in the past two weeks and still be balanced as an offense but be productive."
Turner said the surface run-pass attempt (Vikings have 90 rushes and 74 pass attempts) distribution can get "overstated." The Vikings have had wire-to-wire leads in the past two games, and only had four offensive plays against the Chargers that included a kneel-down in the victory formation.
"I like the mixture we've had in run and pass, I like the contribution our passing game has made," Turner said. "If you only have three quarters of offense, then you're not going to have dynamic numbers. I'm not really about our ability to throw the ball under any circumstance. We're doing what's best for our team right now and what we want our quarterback to do – and I think he's done it the last two weeks – is play winning football, not fantasy football."
LB Hat trick in 12 games
The Vikings starting base defense combination of linebackers this season — Anthony Barr, Gerald Hodges and Chad Greenway — has each scored a touchdown in the past 12 games.
It started with Barr's trifecta of a forced fumble, recovery and 27-yards on the first snap of overtime at Tampa Bay (Oct. 26) and continued with Gerald Hodges' 27-yard return of an interception on the first snap of the game against the Jets (Dec. 7) to tie a Vikings record for fastest score (12 seconds). Greenway's interception return wasn't a walk-off winner, but his 91-yard return is the fifth-longest in franchise history and was one for all ages.
"I just commend our coaches and front seven because when you get those interceptions, most of the time it's coming from getting a good rush and things like that or the defense that's called," Hodges said. "I commend the backers for hustling and being in the right position at the right time as well."
Former Gopher back in MN
Former Golden Gopher Brock Vereen, a 2014 fourth-round pick of the Bears, returned to Minnesota Thursday as a member of the Vikings practice squad.
Vereen, the younger brother of Giants running back Shane Vereen, was part of a series of roster moves by Chicago this week that including trading former Viking Jared Allen to Carolina.
"I couldn't be happier to be here. I hope to help and contribute," the safety said. "Obviously getting thrown into a new situation, it always helps being comfortable with the area and some of the guys on the team."
The Vikings had an opening on their 10-man practice squad after the Houston Texans signed linebacker Brian Peters to their 53-man active/inactive roster.
Click here to read more about Vereen.
Xavier Rhodes (concussion/neck) fully participated for a second straight day. Audie Cole (ankle) was limited. Justin Trattou (foot), Charles Johnson (ribs), Jarius Wright (hand), Andrew Sendejo (knee) did not participate for a second straight day. Jabari Price (shoulder) did not participate Thursday.
For the Broncos, Peyton Manning (not injury related), guard Louis Vasquez (knee), defensive end Kenny Anunike (knee), cornerback Omar Bolden (foot), running back Juwan Thompson (neck) and cornerback Kayvon Webster (ankle) fully participated. Defensive end Vance Walker (elbow) was listed as limited. Tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder), guard Evan Mathis (hamstring), TE/FB James Casey (knee), tight end Owen Daniels (not injury related) and linebacker Todd Davis (ankle) did not participate.