Person of Interest: Vikings running back Adrian Peterson
Position: Stud hoss running back, reinstated persona non grata
Experience: Ninth season
He could be the comeback player of the year for the second time in his career. Except this time he’s coming back from what amounted to a year on the sidelines because of a child-abuse investigation whereas in 2012 he was coming back from a torn knee ligament.
Peterson played only one game last season, first being placed on the exempt list and later being suspended before he was reinstated upon appeal over the offseason.
He is again the best running back in the league, or maybe it’s more accurate to say he’s still the best running back in the league. He has yet to gain fewer than 1,200 yards in any full season he has played, and the Vikings are hitched to him in much the same way the Seahawks hitched themselves to Marshawn Lynch.
Peterson is already among the top 20 career rushers in NFL history, and last week became the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons, who entered the game with the league’s No. 1 rushing defense and promptly yielded 158 rushing yards to Peterson.
The Seahawks have the fifth-ranked rush defense in the league, and they haven’t allowed a player to rush for more than 100 yards yet this season or in any of their past 17 regular-season games.
But last time the Seahawks faced Adrian Peterson, he ran for 182 yards, most by any opponent in Pete Carroll’s six seasons in Seattle. That was Nov. 4, 2012, which means the challenge of stopping Minnesota is as simple as stopping Peterson.
And the formula for tackling Peterson isn’t all that complex.
“You form tackle,” safety Kam Chancellor said. “You get your feet up under you, get a good base and you run your feet. Eyes through the thighs. You wrap up and you hold on tight. Put him to the ground.”
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
“I love this challenge,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “I feel like it’s a great challenge for us. I feel like we’ve been doing a really good job stopping the run and this is going to put that to the test.”