NFC North: On the Radar 52710 NFC

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A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Larry French/Getty ImagesAdrian Peterson knows he must do a better job securing the ball.
We're now four months removed from the NFC Championship Game, an event that announced to the world that Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson has a fumbling problem. Organized team activities have begun, training camp is two months away and no one can say what -- if anything -- Peterson has done to address the issue.

Coach Brad Childress long ago dismissed the possibility of a fundamental intervention, saying in February that "I'm not going to discourage that guy from running the ball with the style that he runs the football with." He expressed confidence that Peterson could resolve the issue mostly on his own and noted that Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton fumbled at a higher rate than Peterson during the first three years of his career. (Peterson has 20 fumbles in 915 carries, while Payton fumbled 30 times in 846 carries.)

I'm all for using statistics to provide context and explanation. In this case, Payton's fumble totals dropped dramatically after his third season. He cut his season total in half for Year 4 and needed more than five full seasons before he fumbled another 30 times. Clearly, something happened between Year 3 and Year 4.

Will something click for Peterson this offseason? During an interview at the Pro Bowl, Peterson vowed to do "a better job" protecting the ball, but to this point specifics have been scarce. That's nothing to be alarmed about or even question at this point. But if Peterson is planning anything significant -- carrying the ball a different way, for example -- now would be the time to work on it.

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