EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There's a little more excitement for Giants linebacker Jon Beason when he goes against one of the best running backs in football.
Enter Minnesota's Adrian Peterson on Monday night.
"That's how you define yourself," Beason said. "It’s all about what you do against 'the man.' If he’s the standard, then you want to see where you measure up."
If the Giants want to win their first game Monday, they're going to have to slow down Peterson, the reigning NFL MVP. Peterson enters the game fourth in the league with 483 rushing yards, while the Giants are one of the worst teams in the NFL against the run -- 26th, to be exact, allowing 123.3 yards per game.
"He's a great back," linebacker Spencer Paysinger said. "Almost say a perfect package of a back."
Peterson isn't producing like he did last season, when he rushed for 2,097 yards and almost single-handedly propelled the Vikings to the playoffs, but he's still been quite good. Despite shaky quarterback play, Peterson is averaging more than 96 yards a game and has five rushing touchdowns.
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Peterson is the most dangerous back in the league, and Paysinger complimented Peterson for his elusiveness. The linebacker said Peterson has great power and speed, and he can make great cuts and hit the edge as well as any of the fastest backs in the NFL.
The Giants also complimented Peterson for his ability to break off long runs with ease.
"I see guys hit him, tackle him, punch him and he just keeps coming. He's got an iron wheel, and he's a strong runner, and he's got a great determination to make those yards," Fewell said. "We'll all have to be on the same page. We'll all have to swarm tackle, gang tackle. See what we hit and hit what we see."
Peterson is coming off his worst game of the season, a 10-carry, 62-yard effort against the Panthers last week, but the Giants are expecting they will see a heavy dose of him Monday as the Vikings break in new quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman, who quarterbacked the Buccaneers earlier this year, signed with the Vikings on Oct. 8, giving him less than two weeks to learn the playbook.
The Giants' rush defense has done well in holding marquee backs like LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte in check, but they still have allowed more than 100 yards in each of their past five games.
"Everyone knows Adrian Peterson is a special player. I like to tell people he should be playing on the defensive side of the ball with his determination, the way he plays every down like it's his last," Beason said. "I love to watch him play football. It's a big challenge, but it's an opportunity to do something great."
One Giants defender, though, wasn't singing Peterson's praises. Cornerback Terrell Thomas, who has torn his ACL three times, told Newsday he didn't find inspiration in watching Peterson tear his ACL in December of 2011 and win the MVP the following season.
“I was happy for his success, but it didn’t help me,” Thomas told Newsday. “What he went through, I already did that. I came back off an ACL. Came back and had a great year. Came back in four months and ran a 4.3, blah blah blah. I did all that.”