EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Adrian Peterson’s remarkable ability and accomplishments prompt steady expectations of highlight-reel touchdown runs and 150-yard games.

Given those high standards, Peterson’s season has so far been slightly disappointing – despite 12 touchdowns and 1,103 yards rushing that ranks third in the league. With Minnesota (10-2) winning as the NFL’s second-highest scoring team, perhaps that doesn’t matter much.

When the Vikings lose and Peterson nets a season-low 19 yards on 13 carries, though, there is reason to look closer.

“It was one of those nights,” he said, reflecting on last week’s 30-17 defeat at Arizona. “There was a lot of stuff that wasn’t going right.”

Peterson has only three 100-yard games this year, and his average of 4.5 yards per attempt is the lowest of his three NFL seasons. Opponents have been determined to stop him, even with Brett Favre carving up the field for a revitalized passing attack. Still, there are times when Peterson might contribute to stopping himself.

Fumbling has been one problem of his otherwise-brilliant career, and being too conscious of hanging onto the ball could keep a back from running at full speed.

“It can, if you’re worried about it,” he said. “If you’re out there and it’s running through your mind, it could affect the way you run. I don’t try to focus on that.”

His determination to run as hard and far as possible can also cost him. Sometimes, when space is limited, a cutback for more room can lead to lost yardage.

Peterson frequently mentions a “famine-famine-feast” approach to finding the hole, but sometimes he must settle for the snack.

“I’m not saying because he’s trying to break every run that he’s not doing the job that he’s supposed to do,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “I do believe there are some that he needs to cram in there and get the positive gain and not try to slip it outside.”

Suggestions have also been made recently that Peterson is unintentionally “telling” the defense when a running play is coming with his eyes by staring too hard at the hole before the snap.

Peterson claimed he hadn’t heard about that, and both coach Brad Childress and Bevell – while acknowledging the issue has been addressed – downplayed any concern.

The biggest concern, rather, was that the Cardinals simply played rougher and tougher up front.

“It was all the way around the board,” Childress said. “We didn’t change the line of scrimmage. Typically if you’re going to run the football, we need to change the line of scrimmage on the offensive side.”

Health didn’t help.

Both tackles, Bryant McKinnie (ankle) and Phil Loadholt (shoulder), left briefly before returning. Left guard Steve Hutchinson (back, shoulder) hasn’t missed any time, but he has had some injuries. Backup Artis Hicks was already starting at right guard for Anthony Herrera (concussion), who is expected to return to the lineup this week.

Still, the Vikings have been getting beat in an area they usually don’t.

“You’re running into an eight-man box, and they’re flying around the field,” center John Sullivan said. “It’s hard to block those defenders when they’re running around all over the place. It created some problems for us, but we’re working that stuff out. You have to learn from it. We’re very critical. That’s that way it goes. Sometimes you go out there and you get your butt kicked. So we’ll try to spin into something positive.”

McKinnie indicated the Vikings have put in simpler plays this week. He said the running problems have stemmed both from stacked lines and some miscommunications between blockers.

“That’s something we’re working on,” he said.

There was also chatter this week that McKinnie has been tipping the defense when a pass play is coming.

With an injured ankle and a loud crowd the 6-foot-8 left tackle spent the whole game last Sunday in a two-point stance, usually a sign that a team is going to throw the ball. But neither Childress nor McKinnie expressed concern about this, and McKinnie said he’s focused instead on fixing some inconsistencies in his three-point stance for the future.

For all the talk about possible tells, it’s simply on the Vikings to run and block smarter and better.

“The important thing throughout the offensive line is always the communication,” Bevell said. “It’s key for our offensive line to play as one.”


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