LIONS INSIDER

Week after week, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson produce in the face of the opponent game plan

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Johnson and Peterson aren’t the best at what they do just because of the numbers they put up; they are the best at what they do because they do it in the face of a game plan designed specifically to stop them.

There are a few rare talents in the NFL, who, week after week -- no matter what defenses do to try and stop them -- produce numbers.

The Lions have one of those special players in wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Another one, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, will be on the other sideline on Sunday.

There isn’t a game the Lions play anymore where the No. 1 job of the opposing defense isn't to take Johnson out of the equation. Just as every team that plays the Vikings makes stopping Adrian Peterson their top priority. That's why Johnson and Peterson aren’t the best at what they do just because of the numbers they put up; they are the best at what they do because they do it in the face of a game plan designed specifically to stop them.

That is the true definition of unstoppable players.

"Both of those players, through the course of their careers, found a way to be productive regardless of the attention they get to take them out of the game and I think that’s what defines a great player in this league," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said.

The fact that Peterson is even making plays this early in the season is a testament to both his work ethic and athletic ability.

Peterson suffered a torn ACL and MCL last December in a game against the Redskins, yet managed to be back on the field Week 1 against the Jaguars just eight months removed from knee reconstruction.

Peterson said in a conference call Wednesday that he isn’t 100 percent yet, but is getting close.

"You know, I feel myself gradually getting closer and closer," he said. "I’m almost there, I can say that."

Even at about 95 percent, which Vikings’ head coach Leslie Frazier estimates where his star running back is health-wise, Peterson is better than most backs in the NFL.

"If he’s not 100 percent – he’s 98 or 99 (percent)," Schwartz told the Minnessota media in a conference call Wednesday when asked what he’s seen on tape from Peterson this year. "I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference in his game. He looks quick. He looks strong. He’s running tough."

Since entering NFL the in 2007, Peterson leads the league with 6,982 rush yards and 66 rushing touchdowns. In nine-career meetings with the Lions, he’s rushed for 892 yards (99.1 per game) and eight touchdowns with five 100-yard games.

The Lions have already faced three of the best running backs in the NFL in Steven Jackson, Frank Gore and Chris Johnson this season; only Gore was able to reach the 100-yard mark.

The Vikings want to run the football, play good defense and let their young quarterback make plays in the passing game when they present themselves. It's been successful through the first three weeks of the season in victories over the Jaguars and 49ers.

The Lions know they have to contain Peterson, just as the Vikings know they have to contain Johnson.

Peterson has been held under 100 yards rushing in each of the last two games he's faced the Lions, but Schwartz knows that means little heading into Sunday.