To play him, or not to play him? That is the question.
That is a question the Vikings face every preseason with regard to RB Adrian Peterson.
There is a category of NFL players who see limited or no preseason action annually because their respective teams prefer to avoid exposing that player to injury, and Peterson is in that category. While everyone agrees avoiding injuries and preserving your best players for the regular season is ideal, not everyone is on board with holding players out from the preseason. Some say there's something to be said for getting into "game shape" in the preseason and for progressively warming the body up to take on the toll of 60 plays per game for a 16-game season.
The Vikings have gone down both paths with Peterson, and it's worked both ways. The last three seasons, though, Peterson has been held out of action. For those of you who fear holding Peterson out of the preseason will yield a slower-than-normal start for No. 28, have no fear.
Even with zero preseason carries in each of the past three preseasons, Peterson has been quick out of the gates. His per-game rushing average in Weeks 1-3 of 2012-14 is 97.4 yards, and he has 4 TDs in those 7 games. Included in that group of performances are three games of 100 rushing yards in 2013 and another one in 2012 when he was coming off major knee surgery.
In total Weeks 1-3 since 2010 (13 games), Peterson is averaging 115.5 rushing yards per game and he has 12 TDs. Peterson is known as a RB with a unique blend of speed and power who can wear defenses down over the course of a game and who can keep running tough late in the season when attrition is rearing its ugly head on defenses. But the numbers also how Peterson is a fast starter, and he's quick out of the gates whether he's played in the preseason or not.
Ultimately, what has happened in the past can only tell us so much of the story. The rest of, and most of, the story will be written tonight by Peterson and the Vikings when they lace them up and kickoff the regular season against the 49ers on Monday Night Football in San Francisco.