|Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is top offensive rookie|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 03 January 2008 01:37|
He led the NFC in rushing with 1,341 yards despite playing in only 14 games, set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards against San Diego, made the Pro Bowl and became the first rookie ever to top 200 yards rushing twice in a season.
Still, when asked to reflect on a stellar first season that made him the run-away winner of The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Peterson merely shrugged his shoulders.
``I feel like I had an all right season,'' Peterson said Wednesday. ``But I left a lot out there on the field. This offseason is going to be all about just correcting those things and coming back sharp and ready to get it started.''
Through the first eight games of the season, Peterson was as dominant as any rookie runner has ever been. He burst on to the scene with 224 yards rushing against Chicago on Oct. 14. Three weeks later, his historic day against the Chargers gave him 1,081 yards at Minnesota's midpoint, putting Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards in jeopardy.
But a knee injury against Green Bay the following week sidelined him for two games, enough time for opponents to devise a way to slow down the No. 7 overall draft pick out of Oklahoma.
Peterson topped 100 yards only once the rest of the way as opposing defenses stacked the box with eight, or even nine, men to hold him in check.
Peterson said there are a lot of areas in which he can improve, including ``running against different fronts, especially eight or nine-man fronts; catching the ball in open space. Just really being detailed a lot now and just correcting the little things that make the world of a difference.''
It's hard to imagine ``a world of difference'' being possible in Peterson's breathtaking game. He is one of the few backs in the league who can flatten an opposing linebacker by lowering his shoulder, break a safety's ankles with a paralyzing juke in the secondary and flat-out run away from a cornerback in the open field.
``From an early time, a week after the draft when we had about 50 free agents in here, you knew he was going to be a special guy,'' Vikings coach Brad Childress said.
And he did it all with a down-to-earth, humble demeanor that endeared him to teammates in the locker room.
``Mostly I'm just happy for him,'' center Matt Birk said. ``I think he deserved it. Great guy. He works hard, and that's the biggest thing. You like to see guys that work hard have success.''
He received 46 1/2 of the 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL. Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas received the other 3 1/2 votes.
``It's a great honor to join a list with names like those,'' Peterson said Wednesday when told that Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson and Billy Sims also won the award. ``They are guys that I looked up to growing up. It's a goal that I set before the year started, to win rookie of the year, so it feels great to accomplish that.''
Peterson is the fifth Viking to win the award, joining Paul Flatley in 1967, Chuck Foreman in 1973, Sammy White in 1976 and Randy Moss in 1998. Only Foreman was a running back; the other three were wide receivers.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young won it last year.
Now it's time for a little rest and relaxation.
Like the rest of the Vikings, Peterson was monumentally disappointed when they lost the last two games of the regular season to fall out of playoff contention. But the silver lining is that he will finally be able to get away for a little bit following a season in which everyone wanted a piece of the NFL's newest star.
``I got to get away and just relax,'' he said. ``It feels like I've been on a world tour for so long since I started playing in the league. But this is what it's all about. This is what you dream about when you were little. But it's definitely going to feel good to get some time to relax my mind.''