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B.J. Raji key to stopping Adrian Peterson in NFC battle


The Green Bay Packers gave up 199 rushing yards to Adrian Peterson in the regular-season finale and a combined 409 yards in two games this season. The Minnesota Vikings running back should be excited to face that run defense on Saturday night, but there's one guy who can jam everything up along the line -- B.J. Raji.

"He's an outstanding player, man," Peterson told the Green Bay Press-Gazette this week. "I've always had respect for him being just a diverse player. A big guy, 320, 330 pounds. Short. Stubby. But strong as an ox and just extremely quick and athletic. You don't see big guys like that. It wouldn't surprise me if he could dunk a basketball."

The defensive tackle hasn't put up startling numbers, but he might be in the midst of his best season.

"I like where B.J.'s at here heading into the playoffs," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said."You'll see him whip blocks, get off blocks and go make a play. I think he's improved as the season's gone on, and he's playing his best football right now."

Raji allows everything to go in the 3-4 scheme. He eats up blockers at the point of attack to allow the linebackers to run clean. That has to happen to limit Peterson. Raji's athleticism helps him take those blocks and still disrupt things in the backfield. The offense wins if it can block Raji one-on-one.

Linebacker Clay Matthews said the Packers won't give up 200 yards again. That has to start with Raji.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.


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