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Adrian Peterson, Vikings Ready for Stretch Run


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —** Adrian Peterson has rushed for at least 100 yards in five straight games against the Bears, dating to 2012.

He's also notched two of his six games with 200 or more yards against Chicago, dating back to his rookie season of 2007 when he posted 224 and in 2013 when he rushed for 211.

Peterson has posted six 100-yard games this season and rushed for 203 at Oakland. All six times have been Vikings victories.

Are they a point of pride?

"Not really, to be honest. I take pride in 200-yard games," Peterson said. "That's what I'm thinking about, 200-250. That's what my mind is set on, but you'll take a hundred if that's what you've got to show for it."

The bottom line, however, is Peterson wants to help the Vikings (8-5) take another step toward securing a playoff spot against the Bears (5-8) and liked the blend of rushing and passing that Minnesota was able to do against Arizona (11-2). The Vikings can still win the NFC North by claiming victories against the Bears, the Giants and at the Packers.

Peterson rushed 23 times for 69 yards, including his 100th career TD (95th rushing score), and Teddy Bridgewater threw for a career-high 335 yards on 25-of-36 passing to 11 different teammates that was even more accurate than the 69.4 completion percentage in a 23-20 loss.

"Teddy had an outstanding game, his best game of the season," Peterson said. "I remember coming off the field and seeing [Offensive Coordinator] Norv Turner and, 'This right here is the winning formula,' even though that didn't result in the win. It felt good to see so many guys get involved and be productive in the pass game and run game. I'm going to leave things in Coach Turner's hands. He's doing a great job, and we're just going to do what he asks us to do."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he liked the balance against the Cardinals and credited continuity of drives.

"We converted third downs," Zimmer said. "There's a lot of things that allowed us to keep drives going that we haven't done in the past, but the mixture is good."

The Vikings also were opportunistic in capitalizing on the Cardinals aggressive defense, as well as a rare lapse early.

"I think the first 3rd down, it was Matt Asiata and he gets a 20-yard completion, if we can get them to bust a coverage every time and get the ball out that quick, it would be awesome," Turner said. "They turned him loose."

Confidence in returns: Cordarrelle Patterson has surged to the NFL leaderboard on kickoff return average 31.1 yards per run back with a tremendous statistical surge in the past five games.

Since breaking loose on a 93-yard touchdown return at Oakland, Patterson is averaging 40.6 yards per return. He has totaled more yards (487 on 12 returns) in those five games than he did in the Vikings first seven (446 yards on 18 returns).

Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said he thinks Patterson and blockers are getting into a groove.

"Right now I think Cordarrelle is doing a really nice job. The guys blocking for him are doing a good job," Priefer said. "We've had more of a consistent group blocking for him for the most part. Even the young guys that have stepped up, have more experience under their belt. They have really worked hard on their techniques."

Priefer said he was continuing to refine technique during Thursday's walk-through.

"We're always talking about blocking with your feet first, moving your feet when the guys are trying to run around your blocks," Priefer said. "The guys have worked hard. Cordarrelle is working harder, not that he hasn't before, but you can just see that he is running harder with a lot more confidence.

"When the seams are there, he is going to hit them a thousand miles an hour," Priefer added.

The Vikings rank second in the NFL in kickoff return average (28.4), and the Bears coverage unit ranks 27th (26.6).

Mending toe not mistletoe:The season of giving — or at least express a joking willingness to do so — has arrived at Winter Park. First, it was Sharrif Floyd offering one of his toes to Linval Joseph on Monday to help the nose tackle return to action. Floyd has filled in for Joseph the past two games.

"I've been talking to him every day, 'Please come back. I understand. I'll give you my toe,' or 'At least give me 10 of your pounds because, boy, I respect your job,' " Floyd said. "Outside of that, I'm praying for him, and hopefully he can get back when he's healthy. I've just got to man up and do what the team is asking me to do."

When told this Thursday, however, Zimmer said, "Hell, I'd give [Joseph] one instead of Sharrif's."

All jokes aside, Joseph was limited in practice Thursday after being sidelined Wednesday.

Injury reports: For the Vikings, In addition to Joseph, Harrison Smith (knee/hamstring) was limited. Anthony Barr (groin/hand), Everson Griffen (shoulder), Scott Crichton (concussion/neck) and Charles Johnson (ankle) did not participate. Brandon Watts (rib), Andrew Sendejo (knee) and Robert Blanton (knee) fully participated.

For the Bears: CB Bryce Callahan (quadriceps), CB Sherrick McManis (concussion) and Alshon Jeffery (calf/illness) did not participate. TE Zach Miller (ribs), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), CB Tracy Porter (ankle) and DL Will Sutton (knee) were limited.

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