As Adrian Peterson attempts to break the NFL’s single-season rushing record owned by Eric Dickerson, he revealed that he originally wanted the jersey number his fellow Texas native wore as he ran through defenses in 1984.
Peterson, who wears number 28, wanted to wear Dickerson’s number 29 when he entered the NFL, but that was already taken by Chester Taylor, who joined the Vikings as a free agent in 2006 and remained with the team through Peterson’s rookie year in 2007.
“Even in high school I got a lot of comparisons to Eric Dickerson. I was telling some guys yesterday that I wanted 29 and my Dad wanted me to wear 29, too, because of Eric Dickerson, but they didn’t have that number,” Peterson said Thursday. “Just watching him, watching his style, he’s kind of an upright, tall back, fast, strong, kind of has some of the same qualities in a back as far as a back, but he’s a guy I liked watching when I was growing up.”
Peterson grew up in Palestine, Texas, and Dickerson, who set the record four months before Peterson was born, is from Sealy, Texas, about 165 miles away.
Dickerson set the NFL single-season rushing mark in 1984, when he had 2,105 yards as a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Peterson currently has 1,812 yards and needs to average 147 yards over the next two games to beat Dickerson’s mark. Over the last eight games, Peterson has averaged 164 yards a game. Over the last three games he has averaged 192 yards.
Dickerson said he didn’t want Peterson to break the record, and Peterson, who owns the NFL’s single-game record at 296 yards, said he understands why.
“I don’t want anyone to break my game record, 296. If they do, I’ll congratulate him. Hopefully it’s me,” Peterson said. “But I don’t want anyone to break it. So I understand where he’s coming from.”
As Peterson closes in on the record, he said it isn’t something he is focusing on.
“It’s not something I’m overwhelmed with,” Peterson said. “I’m working hard to get it done and those guys up front might be even working harder than even I am because they’re pretty pumped up to get it done, ultimately with the same goal of winning, getting a W first but doing that in the same process.”
Peterson has been battling abdominal and groin injuries, but he downplayed the severity of them despite missing Wednesday and Thursday’s practices, calling it “normal wear and tear.”
As he pursues the record, he has been hearing from former teammates and others, and seemed amused by some of the messages. Among them was former Vikings safety Darren Sharper.
“He texted me the other night. He was like, ‘Adrian, hey, man, just go ahead and put it out of reach. Go ahead and get 2,228, your individual number.’ He was just telling me to give it my best, going after the chase,” Peterson said. “So that was one that I thought that was funny. Outside of that, going after the record, you hear a lot of people making comments about, ‘He’s not human, he’s on this, he’s on that.’ I’ve heard it all. ‘He’s a beast.’”
Even Peterson’s pastor had advice for him.
“He’s always giving me scripture and keeping me where I’m always giving God the praise. That’s where my faith comes from. So I feel like God watches over me,” Peterson said. “My spirit may not be out there doing the things that I do on the field. It’s beyond me. So that just hit home. So I’d rather share that than talk about the 2,000 yards.”
Adrian Peterson (abdomen/groin), Brian Robison (shoulder) and Matt Kalil (illness) didn’t practice Thursday. Antoine Winfield (knee) was limited. Frazier indicated Peterson and Winfield would practice Friday, but he wasn’t sure how much, if any, Robison would be able to do.
“We’d have to see him do a little pushing. We’d have to see him do a little something just because of the nature of the injury and the position he plays,” Frazier said about Robison playing one week after a Grade 3 sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder. “It’s possible. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
Joining Winfield as limited were DE Jared Allen (shoulder), P Chris Kluwe (knee/groin), T Phil Loadholt (knee) and S Mistral Raymond (ankle).
For the Texans, only CB Alan Ball (foot) didn't practice.
CB Chris Cook (forearm) is expected to come off injured reserve/designated to return, but his conditioning will determine how much he plays.
“He’s made a lot of progress from last week to this week. He’s heading in the right direction. It’s just a matter of how much we can play him,” Frazier said.
The Vikings can wait until Saturday to activate Cook and make a subsequent roster move on the 53-man squad.
Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo and general manager Chuck Fletcher attended Vikings practice with the NHL still in lockout mode. “It makes you feel good about being at work,” Frazier said after talking to the Wild employees.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.