EDEN, PRAIRIE MINNESOTA – Adrian Peterson is staring 30 years old right in the face, and he knows the stigma that number carries for NFL running backs.
He knows that most running backs these days seem to hit a wall at 30, experiencing a steep decline in production that quickly leads to the end of their careers. Peterson turns 30 next March, meaning that he is about to start his final season in his 20s.
Just like the torn ACL that threatened his career three years ago, Peterson is unfazed by the road block looming in the not-to-distant future.
“The same thing I thought when they say ACL, you’ll never come back from it,” Peterson said on Thursday after the Minnesota Vikings concluded a three-day minicamp. “It is what it is. It doesn’t apply to me. I have a totally different mindset and mind frame, so I’ll just stay in my lane and let everybody else say what they have to say.”
Peterson returned from an ACL injury in 2012 to rush for 2,097 yards and win the MVP award. Last year he had 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns and had surgery in the offseason on his groin, the third straight season he has needed surgery to repair an injury.
Despite the recent injury issues, Peterson sees no reason to think he’s slowing down. He doesn’t buy into the 30-year-old barrier, preferring to compare himself to former teammate and noted NFL iron man Brett Favre than the average running back.
“Well, I was talking to Favre,” Peterson said when asked how long he wants to play. “Forty sounds like a good number.”
Whether Peterson’s lofty goals are realistic or not remains to be seen, but he did say on Friday that he feels good about the direction of the team under new coach Mike Zimmer.
Peterson was skeptical when the Vikings fired coach Leslie Frazier after missing the playoffs, but Zimmer, new offensive coordinator Norv Turner and running backs coach Kirby Wilson have made a good impression on the face of the franchise.
“I’m excited with where we are. I’m excited about everything that’s going on in the organization, the head coach, the offensive coordinator, there’s so much energy within the building and amongst the guys,” Peterson said. “I’m feeling with everything they’re asking me to do. These past couple of days I’ve been able to see how things could possibly work out for us if we just continue in the direction we’re headed.”
The Vikings open training camp in Mankato on July 24 and Zimmer said having a star like Peterson buying in like he has makes his job easier.
“He’s great,” Zimmer said. “Everything that we’ve asked him to do, he’s done. Even more.”