Adrian Peterson already has RSVP’d to one event featuring Giants linebacker Jasper Brinkley. The Vikings running back and NFL’s leading rusher will attend Brinkley’s wedding this offseason and help his former Minnesota teammate celebrate his nuptials.
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On Friday, he RSVP’d to another. Peterson practiced fully for the first time all week and was listed as probable to play against the Giants on Sunday night.
It wasn’t a surprise to the Giants or Brinkley, who played for the Vikings from 2009-12 and again in 2014. Peterson suffered an ankle injury last week, but he’s known for his toughness and ability to overcome injuries.
“He’ll be thought of as one of the greats when he’s done playing,” Brinkley said. “Just a hard worker, man, and it pays and it shows. A great guy. He’s like family to me.”
Brinkley said he’s had to tackle Peterson in training-camp practices, but never when it counted.
Peterson has NFL-high totals of 286 carries for 1,314 yards this season, but in his last three games against Seattle, Arizona and Chicago, he had a combined 150 yards. Still, the Giants know he’s a major threat, a big part of the Vikings’ offensive plans and of course one of the most dangerous players in the league.
“If you make one mistake up front, he’s really good at finding it,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “And when he finds it, he finds it so quick, and he’s out and he makes you pay for it.”
“He’s one of the best ever,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “He’s everywhere. You look on film, you cut back right and you look like you’re going to make the tackle, and he’s just up the field for another 25 yards. He’s a powerful running back, he breaks tackles and just keeps on going.”
“The challenge is you have to play] four quarters,” defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said. “One thing that he’s always been good at, and this goes back a while, you can have him contained for most of the game, and then all of a sudden if you let up one or two plays, he burns you. That’s something that you’ve got to be consistent every single play and not let him get an inch, because that’s all he needs. You give him a little, small hole or small crease and he’ll take off.”
Pierre-Paul said the Giants’ run defense is looking forward to the challenge. “I get motivated, I think all the guys here get motivated,’’ he said. “I like playing the run. It’s something I’m good at, and still good at. I’m getting better, so it’s going to be a big challenge for me and I’m up to it.”
Brinkley believes he is, too. While he downplayed the significance of playing against his former team, there is no doubt about the amount of respect he has for Peterson or how much he is relishing this meeting.
“He’s the last of a dying breed,” Brinkley said. “Just how violent he runs. Speed, explosiveness, all those things. You don’t see many backs with that anymore.”
Brinkley will see that particular back again during the offseason when he exchanges his vows. But on Sunday night, he’ll be more focused on registering tackles and a victory than on registering for gifts.