Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was third in the NFL Network's rankings of the top 100 players of 2011 as voted on by more than 400 current players. The top 10 list was revealed in a two-hour special on Sunday night.
The only players ahead of Peterson were quarterbacks Tom Brady of New England (No. 1) and Peyton Manning of Indianapolis (No. 2). Peterson and Tennessee's Chris Johnson have gone back and forth on the subject of who is the NFL's top running back but Johnson was 13th on the list.
"It's definitely an honor," Peterson said of his ranking during an in-studio appearance on Sunday night. "But I was looking forward to being in that No. 1 spot. It's two guys ahead of me that are great players. Tom Brady No. 1 and Peyton Manning. I guess I have to take that for now but it just felt good. It's an honor that my peers and all the voters voted me in the top 10. You just think about all the great athletes, NFL players that we have in this league, and just to be ranked among the top five, it feels good."
Asked about not finishing first, Peterson said: "First off, I'm going to say I know it's a quarterback-driven league. So I knew it was going to be rough to finish No. 1. Just the mentality that I bring. Having the mentality to be the best, I prepare to be the best. I'm always finding things to improve on as far as my game. My whole game. That being said, it's tough. These guys have championships under their belt and it's something they've been doing consistently for years. I've been doing it consistently, too. But I feel like once I get a championship under my belt then maybe [I'll get there]."
During the segment in which Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma talked in depth about Peterson, it was pointed out the Pro Bowl running back had an issue with fumbles. Peterson had 20 fumbles, including 13 lost in his first three seasons, but had only one lost in 2010.
"That's something I looked back on, studied the film, and found out what I needed to improve on," Peterson said. "It was just really having good sound ball security and knowing that guys were really focused on punching that ball out rather than tackling me. Just my style of play, how I run, I get loose with the ball and it leaves opportunities for guys to punch it out. I cleaned it up and I lost one last year. This year I'm going for none."
Defensive end Jared Allen was the only other Vikings player in the rankings at 80th.
Here's the Top 10.
10. Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears
9. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
8. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets
7. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
6. Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers
5. Ed Reed, S, Baltimore Ravens
4. Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens
3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
2. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots