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Adrian Peterson expected to run more against Bears

As dynamic as Adrian Peterson is on the football field, he is equally understated off of it. You aren't going to get the Pro Bowl running back to demand more carries or say that he isn't being utilized enough.

Adrian Peterson

As dynamic as Adrian Peterson is on the football field, he is equally understated off of it. You aren't going to get the Pro Bowl running back to demand more carries or say that he isn't being utilized enough.

Nope.

For that, you have to go to quarterback Brett Favre and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Both know that if the Vikings are to shake their current slump and make a playoff run it's the third-year running back -- and not the 19-year quarterback -- who needs to be the focal point of this offense.

"I know our offense starts with Adrian Peterson and that's where it ends, and we have to get that back on track," Favre said this week.

What happens when the passing game trumps the run? Exhibit A came Dec. 6 at Arizona, as Peterson rushed for 19 yards -- the second-lowest single-game total of his career -- on 13 carries in a 30-17 loss. Exhibit B came Sunday, when Peterson ran for 35 yards on a season-low 12 carries as the Vikings abandoned the run in the second half of a 26-7 loss at Carolina.

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"We've stood up here many times and said, 'That's what we are, is we're a running team,'" Bevell said Thursday. "We all kind of joked about, 'Hey, there's nine, there's 10 guys up in the box and you're still running it. You're still getting positive yards.' We need to get back to that."

The Vikings (11-3) will have an excellent chance to follow through on that Monday night, when they face the Chicago Bears at what promises to be a frigid Soldier Field where the run game will be the best option and perhaps the only consistent one.

Peterson has gone a career-high five games without a 100-yard rushing performance, but he has to be looking forward to the opportunity to play a third career game in Chicago. Peterson rushed for 224 yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns in an October victory at Soldier Field as a rookie, setting a team record that he broke three weeks later by rushing for an NFL-record 296 yards against San Diego. He ran for 121 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns in October 2008 in a loss in Chicago.

"Just playing where Walter Payton used to play and Soldier Field, there is so much history there and tradition," Peterson said when asked why he has been so effective in that stadium.

"Just being a Walter Payton fan, I'm always pumped up for that game. Plus, I love playing on grass fields, so I think that helps a little bit."

Ordinarily, the fact that Peterson had just three carries for seven yards in the second half Sunday would have been one of the main story lines at Winter Park this week. But like everything else involving the Vikings, Peterson's situation was trumped by the news that Favre and coach Brad Childress weren't seeing eye-to-eye about how the offense should run.

Peterson very much figures into the subplot of that story, making him a bit like a kid whose parents are fighting. At the root of the issue is that at times Favre has checked out of run plays in order to pass. Considering Peterson gets the majority of the snaps in the backfield, that means he's losing some carries.

Peterson, sounding like a politician, refuses to complain. "I don't know. I really can't say that," he said. "You can look at certain games where I might feel that maybe the run game should be emphasized more. You look at some games where you can say the same for the pass. That's pretty much how I look at it."

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Bevell clearly saw it differently after the Vikings established season lows for rushing attempts (14) and yards (41) on Sunday. "To run the ball three times in the second half, it was a 7-6 game (after three quarters), that was a poor job on my part," Bevell said. "You have to be patient. There may be times you're getting one, two, three yards, and you have to continue to stay with it."

Especially with a guy like Peterson, who often follows a series of short gains with an 80-yard run. Despite his streak of games without gaining 100 yards, Peterson remains fourth in the NFL in rushing, with 1,235 yards, and is tied with Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew for the league lead with 15 rushing touchdowns.

Peterson was held to less than 100 yards rushing by the Bears on Nov. 29 in the second game of his drought. The Vikings won 36-10, as Peterson gained 85 yards on the ground. That effort did nothing to take away the respect he has earned from Chicago's defense.

"They have a better quarterback," Bears defensive end Alex Brown said. "They don't have to go to him as much. But, no, he's still the same Adrian Peterson. He very well could bust out for 100 the following game or our game if we don't do what we're supposed to do. He's still a threat, he will always be a threat. He's fast, he's strong, they have a good offensive line. There's no slump there."

After Monday night there might not be a lack of carries, either.

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