St. Louis Rams

September 4, 2014

Rams hoping for a more quiet Peterson performance this time

Not many NFL players are known simply by their initials but Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson -- or simply 'AP' -- is one of them.

Peterson won't have to introduce himself to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday when the Vikings visit the Edward Jones Dome for the season opener.

On his last trip to St. Louis in 2012, Peterson was having a somewhat pedestrian game before finishing off a 212-yard performance that saw him average nearly nine yards per carry.

It's not enough to stop Peterson for short gains for a quarter or hold him down for a half. In the 2012 game, he had only eight yards on his first eight carries.

All it takes is one play for Peterson to break loose, to run over a cornerback or around a safety and finish the play in the end zone.

On Thursday, Peterson told Minnesota reporters he expected to score a touchdown on his first carry of the season. He did it last season, rambling 78 yards for a score.

"He doesn't avoid contact and if you're a DB (defensive back), he's gonna find out if you like to hit people or not," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "He's gonna figure out who wants to tackle."

Long said Peterson is the best back in the NFL right now for his ability to pick apart defenses in so many ways.

"There's some great backs just as good as him in the tackle box," Long said. "But when he gets in the second level and when you let him out into the back end of your defense, he's the best -- and that's what separates him.

"It's his ability to break a run."

Peterson's recollection of that 2012 game includes what he felt was far too much talking by the Rams defense.

"What I do remember about that game is that it's first time in eight years I've ever talked off to players," Peterson said. "Those guys had me so hot; like I haven't ever been that mad playing football, but those guys were just running to the ball.

"I love it too, but they were just yapping at the mouth. I'm talking about from the defensive front to the second level to the secondary."

As it turns out, Peterson and the Vikings got the last laugh during a 36-22 victory. He broke free for an 82-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, tying his record for the longest carry of his career.

Peterson took a handoff up the middle, cut outside quickly and then back to the inside, finding a huge gap up the middle before flying into the end zone.

"Those guys were just yapping and they were doing pretty good initially," Peterson said. "Kind of getting a couple tackles for loss, a couple of three and outs --and then when I gunned at them one time, it got real quiet."

Don't expect the Rams to be quiet Sunday.

"We're going to keep talking," Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford said. "We're going to hit, we're going to stick, we're going to talk (stuff). Going against a guy like him, he's the best in the league at his position. We know we've all got to bring our A-game on Sunday."

Like several other Rams defenders, Langford stressed a swarming approach with Peterson.

"We don't look at it like 'Huh-uh, we can't let him get us,''' Langford said. "If the corners have to come up and make tackles, they'll do it, the safeties ... everybody's got helmets and shoulder pads out there so you know we'll try to tackle.

"Nobody's worried about getting run over or getting juked, anything like that."

After battling back from a knee injury, Peterson has gone three straight preseasons without taking a single handoff to save his strength for the regular season.

"He's the best back in football so he's going to break a long one every now and then," Long said. "You've just got to make sure it's 12 and 13, not 80 and 62 or whatever."

The Rams have built an impressive "Sack City" defense, one they hope to rely on heavily with the loss of injured starting quarterback Sam Bradford.

Adding ultra-aggressive defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to the mix should certainly enhance the attack mode.

But will it be enough to slow down Peterson?

"I hope they come in talking a lot of noise this time, too," Peterson said. "I'm excited to play these guys. I love playing against a good defense. I love playing against guys that are aggressive, and know how to play defense. I grew up watching Pittsburgh and the Cowboys when those guys had good defense, guys come in and hit you and run up to the ball, that's what I'm used to. Every time I play a team like that I'm ever more excited and ramped up to play against them."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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