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Texans gear up for 'All Day' Peterson


There are all kinds of ways to stop Adrian Peterson. Unfortunately for the Texans' defense, those methods are illegal. They won't be able to mug him in the parking lot or spike his orange juice before Sunday's game at Minnesota.

In other words, there is a big problem.

"If anybody has a secret, please let me know," cornerback Jacques Reeves said. "I'm open for suggestions. We just have to get to the ball and gang tackle."

A group effort seems to be the best idea as the Texans prepare for their first road trip in four weeks in the boisterous Metrodome. Their chief concern is at least slowing down Peterson, a rookie sensation last year and a consistent ground-gainer this season.

"After he gets past the front line, when he gets to the secondary, it's trouble,'' cornerback Demarcus Faggins said. "He's very hard to tackle in the open field. He's big and also if he gets a step on you he's gone. He can run you over. He can run past you.

"It's not just one thing to look at playing against him; it's a lot of things."

Peterson ranks second in the NFL in rushing with 684 yards behind Washington's Clinton Portis with 944 yards. Peterson has five rushing touchdowns this season, which ranks ninth in the league. His career average of 96.4 rushing yards per game in 21 pro games ranks the highest in the NFL over the past two seasons.

"We have to swarm tackle,'' Faggins said. "We've got to get a hat on him. When we hit him, we have to wrap him up and take him down. If you can't get him down, you have to hold on and wait for someone to come and help."

No one wants to take on Peterson alone.

"We've got to pursue well and not count on one guy to tackle him,'' Reeves said. "Run around like we do and get a few bodies on him. He's one of the best. He's young, he runs hard and he's got good speed."

{QUOTE}The Texans rank 21st in league rushing defense. They'll be trying to slow Peterson and Chester Taylor. Last year, the Vikings duo finished second and third in the league in rushing average per carry. Peterson was second at 5.6 yards per carry and Taylor ranked third at 5.4.

"Everyone has to be playing physical," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "He's a physical runner and he runs hard. He's one of the best running backs we have in the league right now. It's going to be an all day thing because they are going to run it and continue to run it because they have such a workhorse back there."

Ryans is in his third pro season but already he thinks Petterson is among the best he'll see.

"In my short time, he's one of the top three I'm going to see," Ryans said. "He's a good back. We just have to play physical, be in the right place and when we get a chance, gang tackle. He's a big back and he's fast. He has the ability to make those cuts that a lot of big backs can't make. He has speed to take it to the house. If you are wrong, he will take advantage of you."

Defenses have been getting it wrong since Peterson came into the league a year ago. He rushed for 1,341 yards, the second-best rushing season in Vikings history. He also broke the NFL record with a single-game 296 rushing yards against San Diego. His every tendency is being studied by the Texans.

"I think you have to play team defense against him," defensive end Anthony Weaver said. "You don't want to have to rely on one guy. You need to get the defensive line pursuing, take the right angles. That's the only way you're going to contain him.''

Weaver says Peterson is a special runner.

"He's probably one of the most powerful guys I've seen," Weaver said. "For his size, the way he runs downhill, he'll lower his head and run over people. That's what impresses me about him. He's got tremendous speed. They say speed kills and he's a prime example of that."

Linebacker Zac Diles is impressed with Peterson's rough running style.

"He keeps his feet moving," Diles said. "Hardly ever do you see one person tackle him. He likes to run the ball up inside. A lot of running backs try to get to the edge. He'll cut back quick. He sees a seam and he hits it. We have to be gap sound.

"When he sees something, he attacks it. He's downhill with it. As soon as he gets the ball, he's full speed. If you try to go one-on-one, it's going to be a long day. If he's not the best, he's one of the best in the NFL today. You see in a short career what he's done already. We know what we're up against."

And, being totally honest and not applying brass knuckles, the Texans don't expect to shut down Peterson completely. They just need to bring their "big boy" pads - as Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman once said - and swarm to the football.

"I don't think there's such a thing as stopping him," Reeves said. "It's cliché, but I'm going to say it anyway. You do your best to contain him and limit what type of yards or plays an individual gets. That's all you can do, because he is a great back. He's a big guy and runs physical. You just try to limit his big plays."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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