By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – For Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young, the best way to describe the inexplicable ability of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is to invoke the universally respected name of Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Clearly, the comparison is that both are the undisputed best at their respective positions. Coming a teammate of Johnson, though, who sees Johnson’s freakish athleticism and strength on a daily basis, the comparison is even more of a compliment.
As grand as the statement is, it is definitely warranted.
Coming off a torn ACL, Peterson rushed for an NFL-high 2,097 yards in 2012, coming just eight yards shy of the all-time single season rushing record.
“It’s safe to say that he’s a Calvin Johnson at running back,” Young said. “He can control the game. Calvin Johnson gets the ball from the quarterback. Adrian Peterson gets the ball directly from the quarterback, and by the time he gets it, he’s already gone. By the time Calvin Johnson gets his little uh-uh off the line, the ball’s in the air, and after that, it’s good luck to the defender.”
As the Lions face the Vikings in the season opener at Ford Field this weekend, Detroit knows that limiting Peterson is essential. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said that the most likely way to do that is to keep him from ever attaining a rhythm.
“Not allowing him to get started is the best way to stopping him,” Suh said. “Once you get him started, it’s hard to stop a guy like that, so if we can bottle him up, contain for the most part, then we’ve pretty much done our job, and then really want to make then a one-dimensional team, force them to beat us with the pass.”
Looking at the numbers, if the LIons limit Peterson, they virtually eliminate the Vikings’ run game. Minnesota averaged 164.6 yards rushing in 2012, and Peterson averaged 131.1.
Pressed to explain exactly what makes Peterson so good, Suh offered an all-encompassing answer.
“His greatest strength is everything that he has,” Suh said. “He really has no weaknesses. He has speed, power, vision, just overall has the experience now that he’s been in the league, very seasoned, pretty much has seen I’m sure a million million types of defenses going against him, so really his advantages are everything.”
No slouch himself, Suh said he looks forward to trying to contain Peterson.
“It’s always fun to play against one of the greatest, probably a future Hall of Famer,” he said. “It’s definitely exciting to go against a guy like that and a strong team.”