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Monday, August 9, 2010

Is Peterson's 64 TD against the Browns his Best Ever?

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Great Article on why Peterson Runs so Hard

Adrian Peterson says he runs angry because football is the former Oklahoma running back's calling and his means of coping.

Nicknamed "A.D.," short for "all day" when he was a hyperactive child, the 2004 Heisman Trophy runner-up refuses to run out of bounds. It's his all-day tough way of honoring those taken from him.

Feel his pain.

Peterson saw his older brother and best friend, Brian, 9, killed by a drunken driver, who ran him down as he rode his bicycle. Peterson, then 7, watched in horror.

Peterson's father, Nelson, who coached his pee-wee running back son to give as much punishment on the field as he got, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for laundering drug money. Peterson was 13.

The night before Peterson's Indianapolis scouting combine workout for 32 NFL teams, his half brother, Chris Paris, 19, was shot and killed in Houston. Peterson felt as close to Paris as he did to his biological brother.

Once more, Peterson ran his wounded heart out for a fallen family member. He clocked between 4.38 and 4.40 seconds for 40 yards and performed well in positional drills. He solidified his status as a likely top-10 pick in the draft, arguably revealing more about his mental toughness than any psychological test or team interview could.

"Unfortunately, when tragedy strikes, the world doesn't stop," Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage says. "Adrian was able to go out and perform despite his loss."

And that wasn't all.

"Then, he came back on his pro day at Oklahoma and had a very impressive workout," Savage says. "He caught the ball extremely well, and not just out of the backfield. And it showed how well-rounded he potentially could be, even though at OU he was primarily used as a runner."

Peterson, who announced in January that he would forgo his senior season at Oklahoma, grew up in the small East Texas town of Palestine with big dreams of winning a Heisman Trophy and a national championship and becoming an NFL star.

He has matured into a rare combination of size (6-2, 217 pounds), game-breaking speed and power. But the 22-year-old's strongest intangible is what Sooners offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson calls A.D.'s "intrinsic drive."

What's a dislocated shoulder, which was popped back in by trainers, when you're fueled by your brother's memory and the knowledge that your teammates needed you to convert a critical third-and-short to secure a win against Texas A&M during your freshman season?

What's eight in the box stacked to stop you every Saturday when the man who instilled your love of the game watched all but the final two games of your college career from prison?

"Resilience is what I'm all about," Peterson says. "I run angry. Football allows me to take out some of my pain on the field.

"When I go out on the field, I just put it in my mind that I'm playing for my family."

Peterson used the same mentality at the scouting combine in the wake of Paris' death.

"Chris would have wanted me to go ahead and work out," Peterson says. "I had just talked to him a couple of days before. He told me it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and just take care of business."

Houston police are still investigating Paris' homicide, according to Peterson.

The drunken driver who killed his brother Brian was charged and sent to prison.

It was no consolation to Peterson, who lost a piece of his heart.

"Brian and Adrian were like twins," Peterson's mother, Bonita Jackson, says. "They were born 11 months apart, ran everywhere together and played football together. It was like a part of Adrian was just gone when Brian was killed."

But maybe part of Brian lives on in Peterson.

"Adrian's always been fast. But Brian was faster," Jackson says. "Adrian said to me once, 'Momma, I think when Brian died, I inherited his speed.'

"Brian was fast as lightning."

When he first put a football in his son's hands, Nelson Peterson taught 7-year-old Peterson to keep going forward, no matter what. The irony is that Nelson would be the one to impose one of the harshest tests of that coaching maxim.

Father and son stayed close despite the years, the miles and prison partitions that separated them.

Peterson was able to occasionally visit his father at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas. They exchanged letters and spoke by phone before and after Peterson's games until Nelson's release last October.

"We were talking the other day, and Adrian said, 'Dad, do you need or want anything? Because there's nothing you could ask me for I wouldn't give you,' " Nelson Peterson says. "I said, 'Thank you, son. Daddy's OK now. I'm free and able to enjoy time with family again.'

"That's the greatest gift of all: To be here now and be able to help him through this draft process."

Those fall Saturdays watching No. 28 run for the Sooners were the only times the father felt truly free in prison. His son gave him hope of better days together.

"Even though I couldn't be there physically to watch him play, in my heart and spirit, and in his heart and spirit, I was there," Nelson says. "To have the opportunity to watch him run on Saturdays, that was the extra motivation that helped me get through my time."

The son, who never turned his back, remains proud of the father who has turned his life around.

"My dad means a lot to me," Peterson says. "He's the one who put a football in my hands. We have a close relationship. And we maintained it during the time he was incarcerated.

"He was always writing, giving me advice, telling me to turn my shoulder this way or saying I needed to make good decisions in my young life growing up."

Nelson conceived A.D.'s nickname. "I've got the copyright on that one," the father says with a laugh. "I gave that nickname to him when he was 2, 3 years old. Adrian was always into something."

Even as a child, Peterson stood out from the crowd.

"Other kids his age would take a nap," Nelson says. "He'd keep running and running. Adrian always had this everlasting energy. But when he ran and fell down, I taught him no pain.

"Kids always look back for their parents to see how they react when they fall. Adrian always picked himself up.

"He's a tough kid."

Peterson will run over tacklers as often as he leaves them grabbing air.

"It's my fault Adrian runs the way he does," Nelson says. "I taught him how to take contact. Now I tell him he shouldn't take so much.

"I had a guy run at him, and taught Adrian to run to the middle — showed him how to meet force with force."

Now Peterson is the most dynamic running back force in this draft, the progeny of a college shooting guard and a high school track star who earned a scholarship to the University of Houston.

"I ran the 100, 200 meters and did the long and triple jump," Jackson says.

"Speed is in Adrian's genes. I see myself in him. He gives that same look I do when he runs, hooking his neck as if it's making him faster. I love watching him run."

Peterson ran for 4,045 yards and 41 touchdowns, finishing third on Oklahoma's career rushing list despite playing in only 31 games.

He set an NCAA Division I-A freshman record with 1,925 yards in his Heisman runner-up campaign in 2004. He rushed for 1,108 yards his sophomore year when he missed all or part of four games with a high ankle sprain. He missed seven games last season after breaking his collarbone when he was tripped up nearing the end of a 53-yard touchdown run and landed awkwardly in a 34-9 win against Iowa State on Oct. 14. He returned to play in the Fiesta Bowl where he gained 77 yards and scored two touchdowns against Boise State.

"This running back might be the best back I've ever seen coming out of college," Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden says. "This is a punishing guy.

"This guy won't go out of bounds. Every time he carries the ball, he tries to hurt you. Bad. And he's fast and mean as hell."

Nelson Peterson said he started selling crack cocaine for an East Texas ring despite holding a respectable job after his NBA dream ended abruptly. A gun Nelson's brother was cleaning discharged, and Nelson, a rising star at Idaho State, was accidentally shot in the leg. He spent the next three years in and out of hospitals, saving his leg from infection.

"I made honorable mention All-American," Nelson says. "I went against John Stockton when he was at Gonzaga. I played in The Great Alaska Shootout against (former Maryland star and Boston Celtics first-round draft pick) Len Bias."

But with 10 children to support, Peterson chose easy money and paid a harsh price.

"I had a little feeling of entitlement, caught up with the fact that, after I injured my leg, my basketball career was over, and a lot of the things I wanted to accomplish for my family financially I couldn't anymore," he says. "I just got in with the wrong crowd, doing things I shouldn't have done."

He talks to schools now, spreading an anti-drug message.

"I'm here today to give you a lot of information on things you don't know; this is how it's going to be when you sell drugs like I did, and you get caught and go to prison," he says.

"So many people want to tell you what you should and shouldn't do, and if you do this, you can wind up in prison or in the graveyard. Three quarters of those people have never experienced any of it."

But Nelson knows.

"I've experienced the good, the bad and the ugly.

"The thing I learned from my time in prison is that it's about who is there when the road is hard. Nine times out of 10, it's your family."

Peterson is a father himself. His 2½-year-old daughter, Adeja, is the love of his life.

"She's just like me," Peterson laughs. "Adeja is a bundle of energy.

"She's starting to understand that I'm a football player. If there's a football laying around, she'll pick it up and run with it."

And Adeja has only fortified Peterson's love of the game.

"Football is 10 times more important to me now. I have to be able to provide for my little girl. I want her to live a good life and want to make her proud of her dad."

Durability. It is the biggest question some talent evaluators have concerning a big back reminiscent of Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. Peterson runs so upright and hard that "he might make himself more of a target even to linebackers who will wind up doing people's taxes for a living," senior analyst Rob Rang says.

Rang says some teams will red-flag Peterson.

"The big knock on him is the durability issue," Minnesota Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman says. "Because he's a taller back; because he has an upright running style; because he runs 1,000 miles an hour. Is he going to hold up from a durability standpoint?

"I'm sure we'll talk about it."

So is Peterson injury-prone, or is there a flaw in his game that can be corrected?

"They're all legitimate injuries," Spielman says. "But is he getting those injuries because of his style of running? Or can you teach him maybe to lower his shoulder and be more patient as a runner?"

It won't be a worry for the team that selects a home run threat.

"Some pro scouts were asking, 'Why doesn't he run out of bounds?' " Wilson says. "I told them, 'He's not making $20 million here. He's on scholarship, and we coached him to try and put some fear in people trying to tackle him.' In the pros, guys play smarter and look out more for their longevity."

Wilson says Peterson will have to polish his pass protection and blitz pickups but insists he was unlucky, not injury-prone.

"Adrian doesn't have a chronic injury problem," he says. "He'd tote it 25-30 times on Saturday and be out there on Tuesday, Wednesday practicing with a high school kid's enthusiasm. He was a great practice player and a very tough kid."

It figures Peterson will be better off and absorb less punishment if he's integrated into a two-back system that eight of last year's 12 playoff teams featured. Even though Gruden already has Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, he says he'll consider Peterson if he's there when Tampa Bay picks fourth.

"Looking at the teams who win, you're looking at Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney," Gruden says of the tandem the New England Patriots featured in 2006. "You look at Thomas Jones or Cedric Benson (2006 teammates with the Chicago Bears) and Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai (2006 running mates with the Indianapolis Colts).

"If you're going to run the ball 35 or 40 times a game, there's a lot of love to spread around if you've got two great backs."

The Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills have either worked Peterson out or expressed interest.

Many mock drafts link the Browns, picking third, to Peterson. The fact that Cleveland signed former Baltimore Ravens 2,066-yard rusher Jamal Lewis to a one-year free agent deal doesn't preclude them from taking another back.

Dublin, Ohio, native Brady Quinn, a four-year starting quarterback at Notre Dame, may be too tempting to pass on if he's available. But the Browns may also feel they're a top-notch running game away from making a legitimate turnaround by better supporting incumbent quarterback Charlie Frye.

"We have Jamal, but it's really a one-year situation, because we wanted to keep the option open if Adrian Peterson is there, or somebody else that we like," Savage says. "He's obviously got big-time speed. He's got burst, acceleration, and he runs hard every down."

Draft day will be more emotional for Adrian and Nelson Peterson and Bonita, who remarried Frankie Jackson, than for most prospects.

"Draft day for my family will be like winning the $300 million lotto jackpot," Peterson says. "God blessed my dad to be free. It'll definitely be a special, emotional day."

Their father-son bond has survived the toughest trial.

"It'll be a God-blessed moment," Nelson says. "To have the opportunity to see Adrian be drafted will be a blessing, especially after all the ups and downs we've been through."

The son wants to reward his parents for the speed, resilience and moral compass they instilled.

"I want to fly my dad somewhere he's never been before — the Bahamas or something — just so he can enjoy life again," Peterson says. "I want to buy my mom a house; the same for my dad. That will be the first thing I do when I get drafted."

Bonita is touched.

"If he's able to buy me a house, I'll thank God for that," she says.

"But if he's successful, that means more than any amount of money or house he could give me. Just to see Adrian accomplish all his dreams would mean the most.

"A lot of things that happened in his life, Adrian has used football as his motivation to overcome them."

It's a story darkened by tragedy but ultimately about family and possibility.

"He's a great talent, a good, grounded kid who loved to practice and work hard," Wilson says. "He was our franchise player. He could have been a prima donna, but he wasn't. … He kept his nose clean, which is unusual in this superstar era. I don't think he'll change. He's a credit to his parents and to (Oklahoma) Coach (Bob) Stoops, who preaches the importance of team."

And how will Peterson do at the highest level of pro football?

"The mountain is high for his upside," Wilson says. "It'll be interesting to see how far up the NFL hill he gets."

Where does Peterson hope to land?

"Wherever I go, it's about going in, working your butt off, doing whatever it takes to win and, ultimately, it's trying to be up there with the Walter Paytons," Peterson says. "I want to win four or five championship rings. That's how I dream. I dream big."

He's earned the right.

As Nelson says of himself, six months removed from serving nearly eight years in prison, "I don't look back. I bounce back."

The trait clearly runs strong through the Peterson family DNA.

By: Jim Corbett

2007 Interview Peterson on his Training and Life in the NFL

Halfway through the 2007 NFL season, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is the obvious choice for NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. He's challenging Steelers running back Willie Parker and Chargers running back (and former MF cover boy) LaDainian Tomlinson for the league's rushing title, and in week 6, he set the single-game rushing record against the Bears much-celebrated defense, tallying 224 You-Tube worthy rushing yards. We recently sat down with Peterson to talk about his sick work ethic, how he's getting his teammates to train with him, and why he believes he'll one day be the best back in the league (if he's not already).

MF: When did you know you wanted to be a running back? When did you go from a kid running around to training for the NFL?

Peterson: When I first touched the ball as a little leaguer. It was my first game, my second carry, and I took it to the house for like 60, 70 yards. I was always fast, I was always racing guys that were older than me and beating them, so I always had speed. I was able to make good cuts at a young age, on the side of the house with my dad, going through different plays, working on cuts and stuff like that.

I definitely always felt that I could really become something. At that age, I'm not saying you overlook college, but growing up young, you got your uncles and your dad's friends that watch the NFL, so that was the ultimate dream. It wasn't like, "OK, go to college, then..." It was always, "I want to play in the NFL." It's been like that for a long time.

MF: What about your training has prepared you so well for the NFL?

Peterson: I've always been the type to work on a different level, doing more reps of conditioning in the weight room. I work on the little things that are going to make my game better, like changing directions. You're going full speed, and you have someone pointing to different places you have to cut to. In a game, you might break to the outside, and you've got that free safety coming at an angle to cut you off, and you plant and you cut back across the space. So you kind of get the same kind of movement.

MF: You're developing a reputation as a game-breaker. Do you do any drills to build your explosiveness?

Peterson: I run half-gashers across the field, sideline to sideline. I'll work on my take-off, being explosive in that way. I've got guys doing three-trippers here. We did those at the University of Oklahoma. That's over, back, and over. So basically, that's 150 yards, maybe four of those after practice. I got (wide receiver) Aundrae Allison, (wide receiver) Sidney Rice, (cornerback) Marcus McCauley, (running back) Mewelde Moore, I got those guys. They're tagging along now, running those with me.

MF: You're a physical back – is there any way to simulate being hit?

Peterson: When I go out for practice, I'm game speed, every day. I'm out there running like I'm in the game, finishing 40, 60 yards down the field. So it's not a surprise when I go out there and do it on Sundays.

MF: Do you do any mental training to prepare for games?

Peterson: Oh yeah, definitely. That's something I always do. I sit there and visualize myself breaking through the defense, making that cut to make that cornerback or free safety miss and taking it to house against the defense I watched on film on all week.

MF: Is there anything you want to change about your body?

Peterson: I'm around 218 lbs right now. I want to keep my body lean, but I'd like to add a couple more pounds of muscle. If I get my weight steady around 222 lbs, something like that, keeping my body fat low, then that's something I want to do. I want to improve my speed too, my acceleration, to be able to get into the open field whenever I hit the crease.

MF: Has your diet changed since getting into the league?

Peterson: Oh, yes sir. I try to eat a lot of baked foods, fish, chicken, potatoes, stuff like that. Grab me a Muscle Milk. That helps. The stuff Cytosport provides is all I stick with. Cookies N' Cream, it's pretty good (laughs).

MF: Is there anything missing from your game?

Peterson: What's missing from my game? I wouldn't say there's anything missing, but there are definitely things I can improve on. Pass protection, being quicker with my cuts, my vision, just the little details that really make a difference out on the field.

MF: Can you talk a little about your lifting routine before the season?

Peterson: I was lifting two or three times a week, coordinating upper body with lower body, getting my cardio in. That's very important. I really don't like running on a treadmill or riding a bike and all that. I like to feel that I'm getting some work done, so normally, I go outside and run, get that good sweat.

I try to do lunges, single-leg squats, then get my full squats in. I try to work every muscle in my legs from quads to the hamstrings to the calves. I haven't maxed out since college, and I want to say I squatted about 540 lbs, something like that.

I'll probably do a couple sets of 315 pounds for reps now. That is kind of light, but when you up the reps, you really getting quality work in, too. So I'll do probably about three sets of 15, you know, starting from like 12, then I might do 10, finish up with 8.

MF: What part of training do you like, and what don't you like?

Peterson: Oh I enjoy all of it. Some of the guys are like, "man, you're a robot." I know a lot of guys don't really like conditioning, but it's something that's gotten me to the level I'm at now, so I'm just continuing what I've been doing that got me here. I always hit the weight room hard.

MF: How do you recover from the beating you take in an NFL season?

Peterson: Cold tub and massages. Just keeping the kinks and knots out of your body, keeping your muscles feeling fresh and your body feeling fresh everyday after practice.

MF: Experts have labeled you a "franchise back" coming out of college. What is a franchise back to you?

Peterson: A guy you can depend on, that's going to go out there and contribute to the team. A back that has proven himself. A guy that can go out there and perform well.

MF: Is one of your goals is to be a franchise back?

Peterson: Oh yeah. Definitely.

MF: How'd you get your nickname, All Day?

Peterson: It's the name I've been had since I was young. A lot of people get it kind of twisted up, "it's easier to just be AP," but it's the first two initials of my name, AD, All Day. I was so active, always had energy, just running around. I'm pretty sure there are people that just can't sit still, they've got so much energy, always moving, always doing something. That's how I got that name.

MF: You're sharing carries with Viking running back Chester Taylor. What kind of relationship do you guys share?

Peterson: We have a pretty good relationship. I feel like I'm blessed, because it could be the opposite, knowing you're coming in and competing for the position, taking snaps away from someone else. But he really has been like a mentor, helping me a lot on and off the field.

MF: You're a rising star in the NFL, but surely you've had to sacrifice a lot to get here. Was it all worth it?

Peterson: Oh yeah, it's definitely been worth it. This is what I've been dreaming about since I was six years old. Everything that I went through has been like food to me. In life, a lot of things come, but it's how you bounce back from them when they come that counts. A long time ago, I decided that I'm going to use the negative things to feed off of, so that's what I've been doing. I'm living a dream.

MF: Looking into the future – where do you see yourself in five years?

Peterson: Five years? I see myself being the best running back in the league. That's not being cocky or anything, just confident, knowing what it takes to be able to have that label and just going after it. I'm putting the work in. I feel like that's something I can accomplish here in the near future.

AP's offseason training to reduce fumbles

Last NFL season, Adrian Peterson the first string running back for the Minnesota Vikings had a little problem with holding onto the football while crashing through the defensive front line of the opposing team. Peterson who has proven he has what it takes to play with the Minnesota Vikings is just about to the point he needs to be at to be called an all around running back in the NFL.

The Vikings who are now starting their pre-season practices and drills have come up with a possible solution for Peterson to get more of an intense workout and more of an out of the box solution to be able to squirt through the offensive holes and come out of those holes still holding the football. The solution is to use a 14-pound pound dummy football, or a fourteen pound football filled with sand while working out and practicing in pre-season camp. This is sort of the same as working out with a medicine ball. The average medicine ball weighs about 12 " 15 pounds.

The thinking behind this idea according to Solomon Wilcott`s of the NFL Network is, If you can secure a 14-pound football, you probably can hold onto the ball when defenders are pulling and tugging at it. " (Wilcotts,, 2010) after he interviewed Adrian Peterson and talked to him about this new idea, or at least an idea that not a lot of football trainers and fans have heard about.

The big question now becomes will this concept work for Peterson? And will all the heavy lifting, or should I say heavy carrying in this year`s training camp turn Peterson into a running back that holds the ball so tight that not even a wrecking ball and chain could knock the ball out of Peterson`s grip. I guess we will see in the upcoming NFL season.

In my opinion yes; I believe this concept will help Peterson grip the ball tighter. The other challenges as a running back are you basically have to be focusing on many different things at one time when you are carrying the ball. The first thing is to know your position and duties on the next play. When the ball is snapped, you hesitate for a second, let the Quarterback fade back as if he is going to pass which will throw the Linebackers on defense a few steps backwards, or towards where the Quarterback has his eyes focused as if he is going to throw the ball in that direction. You then start forward, let the Quarterback tuck the ball in your gut as you slide past him like a piece of ice sliding down a metal pole, you then hit the hole where your front line has just opened for you. The best thing as you go through the hole is to grab the ball with both arms and tuck it tight into your body. This is the point where the defensive line is going to be punching at the ball, grabbing at it, and slapping at it in any way they can to try to knock it out of your arms for a fumble. Imagine running through a line of trees with no leaves on the branches on a windy day, this is sort of what it is like for a running back to run through the offensive line and then into the front defensive line and secondary. The smaller branches are slapping at your body and the bigger branches bump you and knock you off balance.

After you shoot through the hole and are free and clear of the defensive line and the linebackers, then you can tuck the ball in either of your arms and run like the wind towards the end zone. You are concentrating on the play, watching the front line until the hole opens up, you are watching and trying to stay behind your lead blockers if you have any, then you mind clicks into the scoring mode. You really are not concentrating on holding the football, or watching the defense come at you to try to knock the ball loose. Any new training method to help hold onto the football better is a welcome suggestion for any running back.

The new training method of practicing holding a 14-pound football while running plays and drills in practice is a good idea, but the only thing that will really matter is if Peterson`s hard work pays off and the concept teaches him to grip the ball tighter.