According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), the 27-year-old back had this to say about wanting to take on additional responsibilities outside the offense:
For the past two years, I've been trying to get in on field goal block. Come in off the edge, you know? It's just going to take one block for them to really be like, "OK, you know what? Let's take the chance and let you go out there and get it done." Kickoff return, I wouldn't mind getting back there. I'm in it to win.
While most would support AP’s endeavor to impact another area of the game, it’s just too risky to have him out there in situations where he could easily get hurt.
Remember, the star back underwent intense surgery to repair both his ACL and MCL slightly over a year ago, but AP has somehow managed to participate in 16 games, rush for 2,097 yards (1,225 after contact) and lead the Purple People Eaters to an improbable playoff appearance.
These are all incredible feats, and adding “special teamer in 2013” to his already impressive resume wouldn’t change many minds about All Day. He’s considered one of the greatest running backs in history, and he just polished off one of the most epic comeback campaigns of all time.
It is worth noting that back before injury woes were a legit issue for Peterson, he actually did participate on special teams.
As a rookie during the 2007 season, AP helped return 16 kicks. In 2008, he fielded two kicks (once in the regular season, once in the playoffs), but he never participated with the field goal block unit and hasn’t fielded a kickoff in approximately four years.
Peterson never made much of an impact back then, and it’s doubtful he would now—even if he’s become a stronger, more aggressive, violent RB. He averaged a solid 25.8 yards per return, but his career long was only 53 yards.
All Day doesn’t have that top-notch breakaway speed that many return specialists like Devin Hester, Darren Sproles or even teammate Percy Harvin possess.
Should Peterson play on special teams?
He’s more suited to pounding the ball out of the backfield, and coach Leslie Frazier would be crazy to ever consider taking him away from that role.
It’s nice to see Peterson putting forth the enthusiasm and attitude of a winner, but he has a clearly-defined place with this team.
This system has worked for 16 games, and they need to hope it works in the postseason rather than making drastic changes—such as putting AP on kick returns.