FLORHAM PARK, NJ – First, the story was Brett Favre returning to New York for the first time since misguiding the Jets to a 9-7 record and missing the playoffs. Then, with Randy Moss returning to Minnesota, the re-match of Darrelle Revis versus Moss stole the headlines. Add in the blinding lights of Monday Night Football’s national spotlight and suddenly this game looks more like an episode of The Young and The Restless rather than a football game.
With all the coverage surrounding Favre, Revis and Moss it’s easy to forget about the most important player for the Vikings, All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. Yeah, remember him? The guy who has run a muck against opposing defenses since he entered the league in 2007. The same guy who’s amassed nearly 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns through three and a quarter seasons.
“I’m not going to be disrespectful to the Adrian Peterson that was from Georgia Southern, but I wish we were playing him,” joked Rex Ryan during a Thursday press conference. “Simply put, he’s the best back in the league.”
Ryan and the Jets defense had nothing but the highest of praise for the All-Pro running back, who seems to do everything a coach would ask of a top-flight running back.
“The main thing is trying to just tackle this guy. Watching film on him, he breaks tackles and runs through people. He’s fast, runs hard and he’s a big bruising back,” said outside linebacker Bryan Thomas.
There is one vulnerable hole in Peterson’s suit of armor,albeit a rather big one. Peterson struggles mightily holding on to the ball. Through four seasons, he’s fumbled the ball 20 times while losing it on 13 of those occasions. Last year he had seven fumbles and lost all but one of them. To his credit, he has yet to fumble this year.
That will be one thing the Jets defense will zero-in on, as the Jets are tops in the league in takeaway/give-away with a plus-eight advantage. Five of those eight takeaways have come on forced fumbles. The Jets have recovered all five.
While it’s nearly impossible to stop Peterson, the Jets hope to contain him by surrounding him with defenders. Many of Peterson’s fumbles have come from fighting for that extra yardage instead of going down after initial contact.
“One guy is not going to do the trick,” said Ryan. “We’ve got to get a bunch of guys over there on him and hit him with everything we’ve got and pull the ball, go for it and do everything to slow him down a little bit.”
Ryan would go on to say that they’d prefer most teams to throw the ball, where more mistakes happen. But with this team they have to pick their poison. “What do you want to do,” questioned Ryan. “[Do] you want Favre throwing or Peterson running?”
- Calvin Pace (foot) fully participated in practice today. Ryan said he thinks that Pace can play a full role. “He appears to me like he’s really looking good,” said Ryan.
- Darrelle Revis (hamstring) participated on a limited basis in practice. Ryan and the Jets believe he will be ready to go come Monday night.
- But if there’s a possibility that Revis won’t play, Dwight Lowery will most likely assume the starting duties. After the fine job he did last week spelling rookie Kyle Wilson from Revis’ starting spot, Lowery will also be the nickel back assuming Revis does start.
- Ryan on Wilson: “He’s a little snake bit right now. For some reason you can be making great plays and then all of a sudden you get in a little spell and it seems like everything that’s thrown up is caught.”
- Rookie running back Joe McKnight has been seen practicing with the defense as a defensive back. Ryan said McKnight has some raw skills that could be utilized on defense and that his attitude has really picked up.