Fullback key to Adrian Peterson's success

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- For years, Adrian Peterson has insisted he would rather run out of a single-back set rather than follow a traditional lead blocker. As recently as Thursday, the Minnesota Vikings tailback said: "My preference is to be back there myself."

That might indeed be the case, but not even Peterson can argue with the success the Vikings have had this season when using a fullback -- usually Jerome Felton but sometimes tight end Rhett Ellison -- in the backfield with him. Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Information provided the numbers in the chart, and there is no doubting the bottom line.

Peterson is averaging 7.2 yards per carry this season when he has a lead blocker and 3.3 yards per carry when he does not. He has gained 985 of his 1,286 yards out of the two-back set, including 13 of his 14 runs that have gone for 20-plus yards.

While acknowledging his preference Thursday, Peterson said: "We've had some good plays with the fullback in there, whether it's pushing it up to the safety and clearing through, but I'm comfortable either way."

There is a bit of a pride factor in gashing defenses from a one-back set and it also allows more freedom. On the other hand, running behind a fullback requires discipline, patience and on-field communication. Those are skills Peterson has had to work on during his NFL career.

"In some cases, you have to be more patient to let that guy get through," Peterson said. "You just have to work on you and the fullback being on the same page."

With Percy Harvin apparently on track to miss his third consecutive game Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, it's no secret that Peterson will be the centerpiece of the Vikings' offense. The Packers would be well-advised to take special notice of when Peterson lines up with Felton or Ellison. It's the best thing this offense has going at the moment.