"NFL Total Access" kicked off its 32 teams in 32 days series this week. ATL will write an accompanying post each night, focusing on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1. So far we've handled the Colts and Rams.
Vikings must move beyond Peterson-centered attack
Adrian Peterson has impressed the Minnesota Vikings with his swift recovery from torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee. The franchise running back is angling for a Week 1 return and his progress is tangible. This is positive news for a team that's made Peterson their centerpiece for the past five seasons, but what if his story takes another turn?
There's no reason to doubt Peterson's comeback. He remains as dedicated and ferocious a competitor as any on the roster, but relying on Peterson to carry the ball 300-plus times in 2012 would be a mistake. The Vikings, we hope, have spent this offseason developing a plan to diversify the attack. Looking up and down the roster, we're not sure where the yardage and points will come from.
Percy Harvin is the team's top playmaker, but good luck finding a receiving threat behind him. The team loves Jerome Simpson's speed, but we're not sold on this one-two punch. Expect tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson to see a heavy dose of action.
This has to become Christian Ponder's team. Even in the rough-and-tumble NFC North, it's a quarterback's division in a signal-caller's league. Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler stand front and center in their offensive schemes -- Ponder must be up to the challenge.
Peterson's return is critical, we're not downplaying his role in this offense. He is a difference-maker and an unusual talent, but if the Vikings don't develop weapons around him, the floor could fall out. This team is in a tough spot in a division that will eat them up if they slip early. They must be ready to surprise.