View some of the best images of Adrian Peterson from the offseason program.
The thunder-and-lightning combination of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon kept the seat warm and the ground game going during Adrian Peterson's 15-game absence last season. Now, Peterson is back and so too are Asiata, McKinnon and a host of others at the RB and FB position that make this part of the roster one of the deepest. However it is offensive coordinator Norv Turner wants to incorporate the RBs into his plans this season, he'll have plenty of options in his stable and that should ultimately take pressure off young QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Here's where the Vikings stand at RB heading into training camp…
Total going to camp: 8
Total on 2014 opening day roster: 5
Average age: 25
Most experienced: Adrian Peterson – 30 years old with 9 seasons
Rookies: 1 (FB Blake Renaud)
Position Coach: Kirby Wilson
Back. And Better than Ever?
The last time Adrian Peterson "came back" from something, he had a season for the ages, rushing for 2,000 yards along the way to earning NFL MVP honors. While he is a few years removed from that epic campaign in 2012, is anyone seriously going to doubt his ability to come back with a vengeance in 2015 after missing 15 games a year ago? Peterson's presence on the field will aide Teddy Bridgewater and the passing game, and it forces defenses on the schedule this season to essentially forget about studying Norv Turner's offense last season because it's a whole new ball game with #28 coming at them this season.
Can't Wait to See You Again
Having to play 15 games without Peterson last season allowed the Vikings to get an even better look at rookie Jerick McKinnon, and what the team saw was encouraging. "Jet" averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 113 attempts, and it was this run against the Atlanta Falcons that perhaps best demonstrated the type of playmaking ability the diminutive and tough runner possesses.* *Whether Peterson needs a quick breather or the Vikings just want to mix it up with a change of pace, McKinnon looks to be a great complement to Peterson.
These Backs Will Battle
You'd think rushing for nine touchdowns as the team's workhorse would essentially secure a roster spot for the following season. That may not be the case this time for Matt Asiata. But don't worry on Asiata's behalf – all he's done during his career is work, bite, scratch and claw for everything he's earned. There are few players who epitomize what Mike Zimmer wants his team to be more than Asiata, and that's why it won't be any surprise to see him remain on the roster even with Peterson's return and McKinnon's emergence. But it won't come without serious competition for a spot coming from Joe Banyard, DuJuan Harris and Dominique Williams.
Leading the Way
Pro Bowler Jerome Felton bolted for the Buffalo Bills, so if the Vikings are to keep a FB on the roster it will likely come down to Zach Line or rookie Blake Renaud. Line started the first three games of 2014 in Felton's place and has been on the Vikings roster since he signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 draft. There's a reason the Vikings have held onto him this long, but there's also a reason another FB is on the roster. The Vikings want to foster competition everywhere they can, and they're doing that at FB by having Renaud come to camp to see if he can push Line. In the numbers game that is whittling the roster down from 90 players to 53 for the Vikings this year, it will be interesting to see how the FB position fits in. Will the Vikings roster a full-time FB? Or will they look to save a roster spot by having one of the RBs (Asiata?) or TEs (Ellison) take on the added responsibility? There's a sense that the FB position is in play with Turner, but only time will tell if Line or Renaud can win a job.