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Toby Gerhart could spot Adrian Peterson for Vikings

As we count down the days to training camp, Around the League will examine one player from every team set for a breakout campaign in 2012. Next up: the Minnesota Vikings.

Toby Gerhart will help Vikings ease Adrian Peterson back into lineup

Making the Leap

Around the League will pick from each NFL team one player who's poised for a breakout season in 2012:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

We continue to hear positive dispatches out of Minnesota regarding Adrian Peterson's quest to return for the season opener, but don't assume Peterson will immediately get back to being the stud we knew prior to his ugly knee injury.

Though a player of Peterson's stature very well could be an outlier, it's more likely it will take time for him to get back to something that resembles his old form. The Vikings will be sure to take precautions with their franchise star.

That will likely mean more opportunities for Toby Gerhart. Now entering his third year, Gerhart produced in Peterson's absence last season, finishing with 531 yards rushing on just 109 carries (4.9 yards per carry) to go with 23 receptions for 190 yards and three scores.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made it clear during organized team activities that Gerhart isn't just an insurance policy in case Peterson suffers a setback.

"Before we send him home and come back to training camp, we'll give him a prescribed weight," Frazier said last month. "But we wanted to take a look at him at where he is right now and just see how it would affect his quickness. Because there's a very good chance he's going to have to really carry the load early on."

Gerhart isn't going to create a running-back controversy in Minnesota (do those exist?), but don't be shocked if he makes the most of the carries that will inevitably come off Peterson's plate.

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