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Photo By - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - It's not every day that you can step back and assess a situation with the ability to realistically convince yourself that you might be witnessing history. For Minnesotans and Vikings fans strewn across the world, this could very well be the reality of the current situation surrounding Adrian Peterson and his quest for 2,000 yards this season.
Already the owner of the single game rushing record (296 yards, 2007), Adrian is on the cusp of joining another elite group of all-time greats as he continues to approach the 2,000 yard mark. Currently sitting at 1,600 yards, Peterson would need 133.33 yards per game the rest of the way to eclipse the mark and join O.J. Simpson (2,003), Chris Johnson (2,006), Terrell Davis (2,008), Barry Sanders (2,053), Jamal Lewis (2,066) and Eric Dickerson (2,105).
That's lofty company to begin with, but the man who paves the way for Peterson, fullback Jerome Felton, says that AP is a "different guy from those guys."
"One of those guys has speed, one of them has power or can break tackles. [Adrian] has everything," Felton said earlier this week. "There's no weakness in his game. I know that he's catching the ball more than he has in the past. I have not seen a flaw in his game yet. I don't think you can say that about everybody."
With Adrian entering the 2012 season coming off of reconstructive knee surgery, the Vikings were looking into a multitude of ways to lighten the load a bit on their recovering superstar. Limiting his carries and resting him during mid-week practices were two helpful measures but maybe the most effective was the addition of a heavy dose of fullback with Jerome Felton.
"I'm just trying to help us win and make life a little easier on Adrian," Felton says of his role on the team. "I feel like I'm one of the best fullbacks in the league. Luckily I got to come here and be put in a situation where I can prove that."
Having been drafted into the league by Detroit, Felton played along side Calvin Johnson and said that he sees similarities between "Megatron" and AP, especially when it comes to their ability to recover from injuries.
"I think genetically he's just different than most people," Felton said. "I've been around great players like Calvin Johnson, who I think is the best receiver in the NFL, [Adrian's] that type of guy. They're just different. They're made differently."
Felton is in his first year with the Vikings after spending 2011 splitting time between the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts, two teams that Felton says didn't utilize the fullback much. Prior to that, Felton spent his first three seasons in the league with the Detroit Lions. While in Detroit, Felton recalls seeing the Vikings two times each year and watching Adrian grow from afar, always thinking of what could be if the pair were able to team up.
"[Adrian] was big," Felton said of the factors that brought him to Minnesota on a one-year $700,000 contract. "I remember when I was sitting in Detroit, we always had tough games against Minnesota and I used to watch when Minnesota's offense was on the field and I was like, 'Man, if I could ever team up with him, I think it could be something special...he's obviously a future Hall of Famer."
Looking back at the way that the season has played out to date, Felton and the rest of the Vikings can't help but think about the all the "what-ifs" from earlier in the year.
"Those first four or five games, [Adrian] probably wasn't what he is now," Felton explained. "He was still getting his strength and explosion and comfort back. Just think, if you replace those games with what he's doing now, it's not even close. We're talking about all-time record."
Looking back at those early games (weeks one-six), Peterson was averaging a very respectable 83 yards per game and 4.4 yards per attempt. Since week seven, Peterson has completely blown up.
Since the start of week seven, Adrian has rattled off seven straight games of more than 100 yards in which he is averaging 157 yards per game and 7.2 yards per carry while obviously leading the league in almost every rushing category. With numbers like those, Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards is in serious jeopardy and Peterson is determined to catch him.
Joining Dan Patrick earlier this week, Peterson was asked if he thinks that Dickerson should be worried that his record is about to fall. "I think so," Peterson said. "I think so."
And now, Eric Dickerson has responded.
Joining Mike Freeman of CBS, Dickerson said "I don't want him to break my record but I wish him the best."
"I don't want him to break it," Dickerson said. "I'll be honest. I don't want to see it. If anyone ever broke it, and if my son played football, I'd want my son to break it. But that's it. No one else. Again, he's a phenomenal player, and seems like a good dude. If a player was to break it, I'd probably want it to be Adrian, but I like having the record. I don't think it's going to be broken."
To break the record, Peterson would have to account for 506 yards over the final three games of the season, something he's never done over a span of three games in his career. Even so, given the run that he's been on lately, breaking it down to 169 yards per game seems increasingly possible for Peterson despite the fact that the final three opponents are all in the top half of the league against the run.
Strangely, Minnesota's struggling QB may aid him over the final stretch. With team's fighting for playoff spots, defenses will key in on Adrian by stacking the box and key in on Ponder by bringing the blitz. Both situations, if blocked correctly, can lead to big runs for Adrian after he fights his way through the first level of defense. His teammate are looking to help him in a more tangible way as well.
Joining KFAN's Dan Barreiro earlier this week, tight end Kyle Rudolph explained that 2,000 yards and the all-time record is in the back of everybody's mind as Adrian gets closer.
"I think [the chase for 2,000] holds all six of us accountable," Rudolph reasoned. "If you take care of your job and you block your guy, there’s a chance that Adrian can score no matter where you are on the field. You don’t want to be the guy who lets your man tackle Adrian. At any point, if you do your job, Adrian can score no matter if we’re on the minus 20 or the plus 40."
There's really no telling whether or not Adrian will get the necessary 134 yards per game to hit 2,000 or the 169 per game to eclipse Dickerson's all-time mark, but at this point, how can you doubt the guy? He's proven all the critics wrong through the first 13 games of the season, who's to say that he can't extend that three more weeks and stake his claim in one of the games greatest records?