SAN DIEGO – He’s just a man. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.
He is not "Wolverine."
“He’s Adrian Peterson last time I checked,” Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes said, smiling. “I mean he’s a great player; don’t get me wrong. But you have to approach him like you would anyone else. You have to tackle him. But of course, the more hats we can get around him, the better.”
The Chargers head into Sunday's game allowing 122 rushing yards a game, No. 21 in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers have allowed the most yards before contact per rush to running backs this season at 3.87 yards before contact.
Overall, the Chargers are allowing 5.16 yards per carry by running backs this year through two games, per ESPN Stats & Information. Only the New England Patriots (5.3 yards per carry) are worse.
“There were some things that were really good last week and some things that we need to clean up,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “Whether it’s a run fit here or there, or support from secondary players, we always looking to improve as a football team. So we can all do better.”
The last time San Diego played in Minnesota, Peterson put together a Superman-like effort, rushing for an NFL-record 296 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-17 victory over the Chargers on Nov. 4, 2007.
“I was definitely in a zone,” Peterson said about that performance in his rookie season.
This time, the Chargers will play at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium instead of the Metrodome when they hit the road for a second straight week. Quarterback Philip Rivers does not want to see a repeat performance by Peterson.
“The last time when we played them at their place there was a lot of unbelievable runs, but it wasn’t necessarily that fun to watch,” Rivers said. “He’s a great player. You always have an appreciation and respect for great players. But my observing will be pulling for our defense to get a stop and get him off of the field.”
After a tepid performance in a Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers with just 31 rushing yards, Peterson looked more like his old self, piling up 134 yards in a victory over the Detroit Lions last week. So the Chargers understand slowing down Peterson will be a focal point for the defense.
“You have to wear him out before he wears us out,” Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget said. “And he will wear you out if you let him. He goes the whole game. You definitely want to let him know it’s not going to be a game where he can’t just run through your defense and do whatever he wants.”
That said, the Vikings have other weapons the Chargers have to keep in check, including an accurate passer in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a physical tight end in Kyle Rudolph and speedy receivers in Mike Wallace and Jarius Wright.
“You have to gang-tackle, wrap him up and do what you can to stop him,” San Diego safety Jimmy Wilson said about Peterson. “But they’ve got guys on the outside that can fly, too. So everybody’s going to have to do their job and bring their lunch pail.”