Hartman: Grant says longevity the key to Peterson's greatness

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 16, 2012 - 11:55 PM

Bud Grant said he believes the combination of strength and speed makes Adrian Peterson the best back in the NFL.

hide

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for a season-best 212 yards in 24 carries against the Rams on Sunday.

Photo: Seth Perlman, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Bud Grant led the Vikings to four Super Bowls during his 18 seasons as coach and has seen a lot of great running backs.

And Grant said he believes that Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 212 yards in the Vikings' 36-22 victory at St. Louis on Sunday, is the type of running back that the NFL hasn't seen for some time.

However to go down as an all-time great, Grant believes Peterson has to continue what he has done over his first six NFL seasons for a few more years. He has to prove he can compile statistics similar to Walter Payton, the Bears great who amassed 16,726 rushing yards from 1975 to '87.

Asked to compare Peterson with Chuck Foreman, the star Vikings running back of the 1970s, Grant said they are different types of runners.

"[Peterson] is faster than Foreman. But Foreman was a bigger back," Grant said, before pointing out that Foreman only played eight NFL seasons. "... If Foreman had played 10 or 12 years, he might have been one of the greatest of all time."

Grant, a great judge of talent, believes it is hard to evaluate running backs until they are done. The NFL's career leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, played 15 seasons.

Grant said Peterson does have a combination of talents that some great backs of the past didn't have.

"If Adrian can continue to play at this level for a couple, three more years, he can go down as one of the greatest," Grant said. "Peterson has a combination of strength and speed. Not all running backs have that. Some are fast, some are strong, some are evasive, but Adrian has a combination of strength and speed. He can break through tackles, and he can also outrun people."

In Grant's opinion, there is no doubt that Peterson is the best back in the NFL today.

"He's got the statistics to prove that. But how he'll go down in history depends upon how long he can play at this level," Grant said.

No team in the NFL has found a defense that can effectively stop Peterson consistently, Grant said.

"Everybody plays the box [as many as eight defenders along the line of scrimmage], but he bounces outside or gets a crack, and then he's got the speed to run away from people," Grant said. "A lot of the great backs get through there, but they don't have the speed to run away. Once he gets ahead, you can't catch him."

Grant said the only thing Peterson hasn't proven up to this point of his career is how good a receiver he is, because the Vikings don't throw the ball to him very much. As examples, Grant pointed out that Foreman was a great receiver to go along with his other talents, and so was the Raiders' Marcus Allen.

Walsh biggest surprise

The other day, I asked Rick Spielman who was the biggest surprise of the Vikings' very successful 2012 draft, and without hesitation the general manager mentioned Blair Walsh.

The Vikings would be subject to a lot of second-guessing if Walsh didn't come through after they had released Ryan Longwell, one of the great kickers in NFL history.

But Walsh continued to make the decision to go with a rookie kicker look very good Sunday when he converted on attempts of 38, 42, 50, 51 and 53 yards.

By kicking three field goals of at least 50 yards, Walsh matched the NFL record with eight in a season. For the season, he is 29-for-32 on field goals, and he seldom fails to send a kickoff into the end zone.

The Vikings gambled when they drafted Walsh because he had his struggles his senior year at Georgia, when he made only 21 of 35 field-goal attempts.

"We had identified him as one of the top kickers because of what he had done previously before his senior year. Coach [Mike] Priefer and coach [Chris] White went down there and worked him out specifically, and basically they are the experts on the kickers," Spielman said.

"And I asked them is this something we can correct, or you can correct, in working with him? They felt very strongly that some of the inaccuracy that he was having his senior year was correctable. We decided to go ahead and take him and we let Ryan Longwell go, who was an excellent kicker for us and very accurate, and so far that has worked out for us."

Spielman said Priefer noticed some technical aspects when Walsh was working out, and when the kicker slowed down his approach, the accuracy came back.

"But I know when we saw him work out at the combine that he was the best kickoff guy through all the kickoff drills. That was one thing we really wanted to hone in on and focus on, was getting our kickoffs better," Spielman said. "If you have a kicker that can at least knock it into the end zone or out of the end zone and get touchbacks, that puts a lot less stress and a lot less pressure on your defense, if they have to drive 80 yards for a score."

Count Grant among Walsh's many fans.

"He's great. From 50 yards, wow, you know, we've got a very good chance of scoring," Grant said. "So the kicking of Walsh and the running of Adrian are keeping us in the playoff picture."

Respects Bradford

No doubt Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt was not surprised to see Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, his former teammate at Oklahoma, throw for 377 yards and three touchdowns.

The Vikings had a 33-7 lead at one time, but once Bradford got hot in the fourth quarter, it looked as if he had a chance to rally the Rams to a victory.

"I played with [Bradford] for two years down there and won a lot of games with him," Loadholt said of Bradford the other day. "He's a real student of the game and I've been impressed with the way he's been playing.

"I think he's a real knowledgeable quarterback. When we were together, he knew what everybody was supposed to be doing. I think his knowledge kind of separates him from everyone else.

"He was a great leader for us, from the time he stepped in to our whole time together. We won two Big 12 championships and went to the national championship. He won the Heisman that year [2008] and had a big year for us."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Portland 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Toronto
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Atlanta
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 6:00 PM
UCF
Winthrop 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Colgate
Northeastern 6:00 PM
Drexel
Wake Forest 6:00 PM
Florida State
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Fordham
Delaware 6:00 PM
James Madison
South Carolina 6:00 PM
LSU
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Marquette
Binghamton 6:00 PM
UMBC
American Univ 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Penn State
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Richmond
SMU 6:00 PM
South Florida
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hofstra 6:00 PM
William & Mary
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Longwood
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 6:30 PM
Notre Dame
Texas Tech 6:30 PM
Oklahoma
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Bradley
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Bucknell
Rice 7:00 PM
Houston
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 21 1st Half 4:24
Siena 17
Dayton 11:00 AM
Richmond
Eastern Kentucky 11:30 AM
Jacksonville St
Saint Josephs 11:30 AM
Saint Louis
UMBC 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Akron 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Memphis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
East Carolina 6:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
Murray State 6:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Kent State 6:00 PM
Central Michigan
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Eastern Michigan 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Indiana 6:00 PM
Michigan State
Colgate 6:00 PM
Lafayette
Fordham 6:00 PM
Davidson
Duquesne 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
George Mason 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Detroit 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
Minnesota
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
UNLV

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close