After watching Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford drop back 33 times and pass for 305 yards during last week’s 27-20 season-opening defeat, the Tampa Bay defense will now be faced with Minnesota’s pass-off-the-run scheme paced by All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson.
The Vikings star ran for 98-yards on 16 carries last week in Minnesota’s 24-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers, including a 46-yard burst midway through the second quarter.
The Buccaneers’ defensive players that spoke to PewterReport.com Wednesday during open locker room, all commented about how important it will be to try and keep the Vikings’ running back, who has rushed for 5,880 career yards since being drafted in the first-round in 2007, in check.
Linebacker Geno Hayes spoke on Peterson, who rushed for 85 yards on 15 carries the last time these two teams met during the 2008 season, and the unique talent he brings to the Minnesota Vikings.
“He's one of the few great running backs in the league right now,” Hayes said. “We're going to have to contain him and keep him on lock.
“He's a guy that has that cut-vision, he can break tackles easily, and he is very fast. So once he gets in the open field he can make a lot of guys miss. You have to keep that to a minimum. Of course he is going to get yards here and there. He can cause a lot of havoc for the defense.”
Defensive end Michael Bennett also gave his thoughts on what makes Peterson special.
“He's just powerful, fast and strong,” Bennett said. “He just knows how to run the rock really well. He's strong and fast at the same time. Some backs are just fast or just strong. But he is the complete package.”
First-round draft pick Adrian Clayborn said the Vikings’ offensive line presents challenges of its own.
“They're big and physical and they're going to try and run the ball on us,” Clayborn said. “They have a great back. We need to get a good game plan. They're big and like to run the ball. They sometimes space you out and sometimes they keep you in close so they can run the ball on the perimeter. We just have to attack them.”
Minnesota brings a much different style than the Buccaneers saw last week in the 27-20 defeat against the Detroit Lions. Rookie linebacker Mason Foster knows the defensive game plan will change this week.
It [the offensive styles of Detroit and Minnesota] is lot different,” Foster said. “Going from a team that throws the ball real quick to a team that's going to be physical and run the ball a bunch in a game. A totally different game plan. But we have great coaches and I’m ready to get to work this week.”
The Vikings' Brett Favre experiment of two years is now over and Minnesota traded for 13-year veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb this past offseason. The former Redskin and Eagle only threw for 36 yards in their loss to the Chargers last week, but that doesn’t mean the Buccaneers defense is taking him lightly.
“They have a pretty good play-action game because they have a pretty good running game,” cornerback Aqib Talib said. “[We] definitely have to be on out keys. They have two speed receivers in [Bernard] Berrian and Percy Harvin.
“He [Donavan McNabb] has a real good running game so he doesn’t have to throw the ball as much. Just feed Adrian Peterson and when they do that they are usually pretty successful.”
Clayborn, who is already thinking like a savvy veteran, knows the front four must stay disciplined.
“We just have to stay in our rush lanes,” Clayborn said. “Last week we just tried to get to that spot as fast as we could because we knew Stafford was going to get the ball out quick. This week we have to contain him and keep him from getting outside.”
While the loss to Detroit still stings among those in the Buccaneers locker room, the prospect of another loss is not something Tampa wants to experience twice in a row.
“You don’t think about that in nothing you do, a card game, nothing,” Talib said. “You never want to go 0-2 in anything. I’m not looking forward to losing.”