CINCINNATI -- There were 16 running backs who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, and so far in 2013 the Cincinnati Bengals have faced three of them. And they have shut down all three.
Chicago's Matt Forte (1,094 last year) managed just 50 yards on 19 carries in Week 1; Buffalo's C.J. Spiller (1,244) had 10 carries for 55 yards in Week 6; and Ray Rice (1,143) plodded his way to 18 carries for 30 yards in Week 10.
But Sunday could be the biggest test yet for the league's fifth-best run defense when Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings visit Paul Brown Stadium.
Peterson wasn't just a 1,000-yard rusher last year, he ran for 2,097 -- 6 yards shy of the NFL record -- while earning NFL MVP honors. And while he's not on pace to come anywhere close to that in 2013, his 1,221 yards are the second most in the league.
"He's got great vision and excellent acceleration," Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said of Peterson. "He's a power runner, and his feet never stop going. When you are talking about the (Barry) Sanders, (Emmitt) Smiths and (Jim) Browns, they are all in the same group."
Peterson is a five-time Pro Bowl selection whose 10,070 career yards rank second among active players. While ability is unquestioned, his availability is another thing after missing last week's game against Philadelphia with a foot injury.
He was listed as limited in Wednesday's practice due to the foot and a groin issue and sat out Thursday's practice.
Asked if Peterson will play Sunday, Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier said, "We hope so."
"We'll watch how he does," he added. "That's what we're hoping, that he'll be able to get out on the field and have one of his big games."
In his two games prior to suffering the injury at Baltimore, Peterson had 146 yards on 32 carries at Green Bay and 211 yards on 35 carries against Chicago. But Zimmer's defense has allowed only two 100-yard rushers this year and four in their last 30 regular-season games.
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict said he knows what Peterson is capable of, but that won't change how he plays against him.
"We just have to treat him like a regular back," Burfict said. "I don't want to put too much on my plate that I can't handle. I just want to go out there and act like it's a regular game. This is going to be a tough back to bring down but other than that I've got another 10 guys that have my back."
While it will provide the defense with an edge if Peterson is unable to play for a second consecutive week, Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry said he hopes that's not the case.
"He's one of the best backs I've seen in my lifetime, and a guy like that you want to go against him," Gilberry said. "It's a challenge. A fun challenge. He's a guy he never stops moving his feet. You see guys get him in the air, and as soon as he hits the ground he's churning. He's dangerous."
As good as Peterson is, stout run defenses have been able to contain him. The Vikings have faced five of the current top 10 run defenses in the league, and Peterson has yet to top 100 yards against any of them -- Carolina (10 carries, 62 yards), Detroit (18-93), Baltimore (7-13), Cleveland (25-88) and Seattle (21-65).
The Ravens game gets an asterisk because Peterson suffered his foot injury early in the second quarter.
The key to limiting Peterson, Zimmer said, is simple -- make the tackle when you have a chance.
"If you don't tackle him, then you are going to have a problem," he said. "It's kind of the same thing, being in the right place and leverage. Know where your help is.
"The other thing that shows up in the league a lot is guys are trying to cut tackle," Zimmer added. "A guy like this guy, if you try to cut him it is not a good thing. You have to use your arms, put your shoulder pads on the guys. If you don't do that, you are going to miss tackles."
(c)2013 Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services