Peterson having MVP-type season in comeback year

•The Vikings are using him differently.

They are having him run behind a lead blocker, usually fullback Jerome Felton, much more frequently than in the past. Earlier in Peterson's career, Vikings coaches thought he was better when he didn't run behind a lead blocker.

"We noticed in Adrian's career he did well with a lead blocker," Frazier said. "Jerome has done a terrific job for us. He has been very good for Adrian's success."

Felton has played 35 percent of the snaps this season. Last year's fullback Ryan D'Imperio, played only 15 percent.

"They are running him downhill more," an NFC pro scout said. "First he goes downhill, then he bounces. They aren't having him do as many perimeter runs."

Before this year, 21 percent of Peterson's runs went up the middle, according to STATS. This year, it's 46 percent.

•The offensive line is improved.

The addition of left tackle Matt Kalil, the fourth pick of the draft, has solidified the line. And right tackle Phil Loadholt is playing the best football of his career, according to the pro scout.

•Peterson has focused on more than his recovery.

"He's a much better pass catcher than before the injury," Frazier said. "He worked at it. He's better at pass 'pro' than ever. He has studied it."

Thus Peterson is more of a complete player.

"I tell him all the time, he's the closest I've seen to Walter Payton," said Frazier, who was Payton's Bears teammate in the 1980s. "His power, his ability to take on tacklers and make guys afraid to tackle are similar. He has world class speed, but like Walter he is a punishing runner. His toughness and elusiveness are so similar to Walter's. And to me, Walter was the best there ever was."

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei

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