The Vikings fullback has been leading the charge on many of Adrian Peterson's dramatic, crowd-pleasing runs this season.
In many ways, Jerome Felton has had the worst view of anyone to soak in the escalating brilliance of Adrian Peterson.
Much of the time, Felton has had his back turned, a few steps ahead of the Vikings star with no way to monitor Peterson's quick cuts and nasty stiff arms.
But that's what they created video for, right? So guys like Felton can not only assess their personal performance but marvel at their teammates' feats.
And so 13 games into what may be a historical season, Felton eagerly offers a fullback's perspective on Peterson's dominance.
"The thing about it," Felton said Monday, "is those first four or five games he probably wasn't what he is now. He was still getting his strength and explosion and comfort back. You just think, if you replace those games with what he's doing now, it's not even close.
"We're talking about the all-time [rushing] record."
Yep, the talk of Peterson chasing a 2,000-yard season continues to take on a realistic tone. With three games left, Peterson is 400 yards shy of that milestone.
"I feel like it will happen," Peterson vowed after Sunday's win over Chicago.
But he'll need help to get there. And a chunk of the aid this season has come from Felton, whom the Vikings signed last March.
During previous stops in Detroit, Carolina and Indianapolis, Felton never worked into a major role.
"It's all about the timing of the situation, being in the right place at the right time," he said. "I feel like this is the right place."
In fact, when the Vikings delivered their pitch last spring -- they signed Felton to a one-year, $700,000 deal -- a big part of the fullback's urge to get to Minnesota was to join forces with Peterson.
While with the Lions from 2008-10, Felton always kept an eye on the Peterson-propelled Vikings offense.
"I'd be like, 'Man, if I could ever team up with him, I think it could be something special,' " Felton said.
Now Felton is witnessing the league's premier back having his most special season.
Sure Peterson has gone on record saying he prefers to operate out of a one-man backfield. But it's no coincidence that of his six longest runs this season, all 48 yards or longer, five have come with a fullback.
That's why Vikings coach Leslie Frazier stamps Felton as "an unsung hero."
"We're playing a lot more two-back than we played a season ago," Frazier said. "And it's really helped us. We went into this offseason saying that wanted to find a fullback to really be a lead blocker for Adrian. Because we felt like some of his best runs he had a lead blocker."
Turned out to be a shrewd theory.
Remember that 64-yard touchdown run Peterson had in the third quarter against Tampa Bay? That came with the Bucs crowding the box with eight defenders and the Vikings turning Felton loose ahead of Peterson.
The fullback first knifed behind guard Geoff Schwartz, then swallowed up linebackers Lavonte David and Mason Foster with one block. In a blink, Peterson was free.
Two weeks later, Peterson's game-sealing 61-yard TD against Detroit came on a similar play against another crowded box. Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson delivered solid blocks up front. Then, Felton fired to the second level to take out safety Erik Coleman.
Peterson was never touched.
"[Adrian] has become a much more patient runner with a guy in front of him than he had been in the past," Frazier said.
Peterson's career long run, that impressive 82-yard score at Lambeau Field two weeks ago, also included a key Felton block on A.J. Hawk. That was followed by a flurry of broken tackles and Peterson's breathtaking sprint to the end zone.
"He's going to be a great back regardless," Felton said. "But all I'm trying to do is make life a little bit easier on him."
To be clear, the Vikings' offensive line deserves its share of praise for the continued running success. And even with ordinary blocking, Peterson is Peterson because of his ability to both shed tacklers and burst away from them.
"Genetically, he's just different than most people," Felton said. "I've been around great players like Calvin Johnson, who I think is the best receiver in the NFL. [Adrian's] that type of guy. They're just made different."
That said, Felton is glad to play a significant role in Peterson's success -- even if his view is often obstructed.
"He gives me an opportunity to show what I can do to the league," Felton said. "And hopefully vice-versa, I make life a little easier on him."
|Minnesota||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Miami||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||12/8/13 3:05 PM|
|St. Louis||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|NY Giants||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Carolina||12/8/13 7:30 PM|
|Dallas||12/9/13 7:40 PM|
|San Diego||12/12/13 7:25 PM|
|Denver||16||1st Qtr 3:47|
|LA Clippers||6:30 PM|
|Golden State||7:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||1||1st Prd 10:10|
|Buffalo||0||1st Prd 11:03|
|Toronto||1||1st Prd 13:48|
|Florida||0||1st Prd 6:05|
|Winnipeg||1||1st Prd 13:19|
|Nashville||0||1st Prd 8:01|
|New Jersey||6:30 PM|
|NY Islanders||9:30 PM|
|SE Missouri St||74||FINAL|
|North Dakota St||66||FINAL|
|East Tenn St||57||FINAL|
|Mount St Marys||70|
|Long Beach State||66||FINAL|
|William & Mary||63||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||61||FINAL|
|Central Conn St||56||FINAL|
|Miss Valley St||89|
|J&W-Charlotte||58||2nd Half 3:11|
|Ga Southern||65||2nd Half 7:45|
|Florida A&M||37||2nd Half 17:44|
|Ohio||35||2nd Half 14:00|
|Iowa State||43||2nd Half 12:16|
|Bethune-Cookman||31||2nd Half 12:00|
|Villanova||50||2nd Half 16:05|
|San Jose St||45||2nd Half 12:07|
|South Alabama||49||2nd Half 10:30|
|North Dakota||26||2nd Half 15:12|
|Sam Houston St||32|
|Wagner||12||1st Half 8:51|
|Stetson||19||1st Half 7:46|
|Greensboro||6||1st Half 10:25|
|Binghamton||15||1st Half 9:56|
|UNC Greensboro||11||1st Half 9:01|
|Fair-Dickinson||18||1st Half 7:46|
|Dartmouth||9||1st Half 12:18|
|Hawaii||13||1st Half 11:12|
|Holy Cross||13||1st Half 10:13|
|Columbia||18||1st Half 6:37|
|UAB||23||1st Half 7:43|
|Pacific||16||1st Half 9:56|
|North Florida||6:30 PM|
|Oral Roberts||7:00 PM|
|Central Mich||7:00 PM|
|Grace Bible||7:00 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||7:00 PM|
|Southern U||7:00 PM|
|Indiana State||7:00 PM|
|Saint Louis||7:05 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|St Katherine||8:00 PM|
|Utah Valley U|
|Walla Walla||8:05 PM|
|Sacramento St||8:05 PM|
|James Madison||8:15 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|Santa Clara||9:00 PM|
|Washington St||9:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||10:00 PM|
|(16) Northern Ill||27|
|(6) Oklahoma State||24|
|(5) Missouri||42||4th Qtr 13:50|
|So Florida||6:30 PM|
|(7) Stanford||6:45 PM|
|(11) Arizona State|
|(20) Duke||7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|(2) Ohio State||7:17 PM|
|(10) Michigan State|
|Utah State||9:00 PM|
|(24) Fresno State|
|Army||12/14/13 2:00 PM|
|Real Salt Lake||1||2ndOT 5:00|
|Sporting Kansas City||1|
|Long Beach St||72|
|(4) Notre Dame||90|
|Miss Valley St||59||FINAL|
|Davis & Elkins||0||Postponed|
|South Dakota St||66||FINAL|
|VA of Lynchburg||32||FINAL|
|No Dakota State||69|
|Utah Valley U||64||FINAL|
|Mount St Marys||65|
|San Jose St||99||FINAL|
|SE Missouri St||58||FINAL|
|Louisiana||23||2nd Half 9:31|
|Austin Peay||15||1st Half 10:10|
|Miami-Ohio||24||1st Half 6:25|
|Wright State||20||1st Half 9:09|
|MD-Eastern Shore||9||1st Half 7:42|
|South Dakota||6:00 PM|
|SD Mines & Tech|
|Illinois||13||1st Half 13:37|
|(23) Texas A&M|
|Appalachian St||7:00 PM|
|Alabama State||7:00 PM|
|Northwestern St||7:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||8:00 PM|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon|