The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

August 21, 2013

Will Adrian Peterson be the savior?

Vikings' starting offense has struggled mightily without AP

EDEN PRAIRIE — Through their first two preseason games, the best performance from Minnesota's first-team offense has been by rookie punter Jeff Locke.

The Vikings haven't done much well in these exhibition games yet. Each incompletion by Christian Ponder or three-and-out series by the unit has only heightened concerns whether this team can be balanced enough to build off last year's playoff appearance.

Even when the wins and losses don't matter, decent showings will somewhat appease the fans, soften the skepticism of the analysts, and most importantly give the coaches and players confidence in a chemistry carry-over to the regular season.

"Yeah, there would be some reason for concern if we don't do certain things that we've set out to get accomplished in this ballgame, or any ballgame," coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday.

The Vikings are at San Francisco on Sunday, and most of the starters are expected to play into the third quarter. But before this becomes an anxiety-raising, must-thrive event, there's a critical fact to point out about the way the offense bumbled through the first two games.

"I was coming off the sideline saying, 'Oh, my gosh, what are we doing?'" wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "Like, we were struggling. And then I saw this guy on the sideline that had this '28' jersey on, and he wasn't dressed, and I'm like 'Oh, yeah. I forgot. We don't have a big part of our offense out here that draws a lot of attention.' So this week will be a lot better."

Assessing a team without the league's rushing leader and Most Valuable Player is hardly worth it, especially considering the way the Vikings revolve around their star running back Adrian Peterson. This week against the 49ers, the plan is for Peterson to be on the field.

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