Surging Packers have all day to stop Vikings' Peterson

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Adrian Peterson is the only running back the Green Bay Packers haven't been able to stop this season.

Of course, they didn't really have to. Vikings coach Brad Childress took care of it for them.

Peterson rushed for 108 yards in the first half of the Vikings' Sept. 30 game against the Packers in Minneapolis, still the only 100-yard rushing performance Green Bay's defense has allowed all season. But Peterson carried the ball only twice in the second half as the Packers went on to win.

Now that Childress is finally letting Peterson live up to his nickname of "All Day," the Packers (7-1) will have to handle the NFL's new single-game rushing king for four quarters against the Vikings (3-5) at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The No. 7 overall draft pick out of Oklahoma laughed at the notion he would be at the top of the Packers' "to-do" list.

"San Diego's to-do list, I'm pretty sure I was on the top, too," Peterson said.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his defense did a good job against Peterson in September, only to let him get away a few times. That's what happened to the Chargers on Sunday, only on a much bigger scale, as Childress turned his rookie running back loose for an NFL-record 296 yards on 30 carries.

"San Diego was doing a nice job on him also," McCarthy said. "All of sudden there's seven, eight minutes left in the game and it's a 17-14 ballgame and he takes off. That's what the great runners do. They wear you down and when they do get an opportunity to finish the run, they do. That was very evident in the San Diego game. We have to focus on what we do."

What the Packers are doing, at least this week, is having their defensive backs spend extra time working on shedding blocks in practice. The Packers are expected to start a rookie free safety, Aaron Rouse, after veteran Nick Collins hurt his knee in a victory over Kansas City on Sunday.

The Vikings' offensive line has improved since the last game against the Packers, and Peterson went out of his way to credit his wide receivers for throwing blocks that led to long gains against the Chargers.

"Those yards wouldn't have came at all if I didn't have those guys up front blocking for me," Peterson said. "Just watching the tape, those receivers were making some great blocks the whole game. So it was a whole offensive effort that helped me reach that goal."

Childress took criticism for holding Peterson back early in the season, but said this week he wanted to make sure the rookie could handle his blocking assignments -- no small matter, considering the Vikings are likely to start Brooks Bollinger on Sunday after injuries to their top two quarterbacks, Tarvaris Jackson and Kelly Holcomb.

"I think he's beginning to clean some of those things up and it's allowed him to obviously get in the game and be very productive," Childress said.

Peterson said he understood why Childress held him back.

"I had to grow into the starting position, and I finally did that," Peterson said.

Now, Peterson's success seems to have provided a shot of confidence on both sides of the ball for the Vikings.

"The sky's the limit," safety Darren Sharper said. "Even this year, there's no telling what the kid's going to do next. Every time he touches the ball, it could be a play of all time."

Although Brett Favre has beaten two straight opponents with deep passes late in the game, Sharper, a former Packers teammate, challenged Favre to try going deep again Sunday.

"I can't remember him playing any better than he's playing right now," Sharper said. "Just some of the throws he's making, I hope he tries that against us. Those 50-yard balls over the middle of the field, we'll see how much success he has."

Favre claimed he was hunting earlier this week and hadn't read Sharper's comments, but didn't seem to think it was noteworthy that a defensive back talked about wanting an interception.

"Last I checked, that's his job," Favre said.

The Packers have been winning with a pass-first philosophy all season. But their running game has improved in recent weeks with running back Ryan Grant, obtained in a trade with the Giants just before the season opener. Grant was limited in practice this week after sustaining a concussion against Kansas City.

Despite their success on offense, the Packers are still tinkering with the interior of their line, which struggled so much against Kansas City's interior linemen that McCarthy declared open competition for both starting guard spots.

That's good news for Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, who lead one of the league's best run defenses.

"No one can run against them -- you throw," Favre said. "And if you are going to have success, you have to have it in the passing game. But I don't think it's a knock at all against their pass defense. We had to earn everything we got against them last time, and I don't see that changing at all in this game."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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