Craig: Vikings' Felton finds fullback fulfilling as he leads way for Peterson

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 4, 2013 - 12:44 PM

His dominant performance Sunday showed why he was named an All-Pro a year ago.

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Fullback Jerome Felton, celebrating an Adrian Peterson touchdown last month at Dallas, has yet to take a handoff in his two seasons with the Vikings, but he retains hope he will get a chance someday.

Photo: NAM Y. HUH • Associated Press,

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With all due respect to fullbacks, there are no little boys who dream of becoming the next Jerome Felton.

Not even Jerome Felton dreamed of becoming Jerome Felton, reigning NFL All-Pro fullback.

“I played soccer until fifth grade,” the second-year Vikings player said Monday. “I thought I’d give it a try in sixth grade. From that moment, I was telling everybody that I was going to the NFL.”

Even as a little kid, Felton was a big kid. But good luck finding anyone in Madisonville, Tenn., who remembers him saying the words “NFL fullback.”

“My favorite player was Jerome Bettis,” Felton said. “That’s who I wanted to be.”

And that’s who he resembled through high school and as Furman’s career scoring leader.

“I was the big back who moved the chains,” Felton said. “That was the role I pictured myself having in the NFL. It hasn’t quite turned out that way, but I’m making the best of it.”

Felton wasn’t complaining. He not only accepts his role, he embraces it. And if you don’t believe it, go back and watch the Vikings’ 23-20 overtime victory over the Bears on Sunday.

Even without the benefit of film review, it was obvious Felton stood out at a position that rarely stands out. To those who make their living breaking down NFL film, Felton had 38 of the best snaps a fullback can string together in one game.

ProFootballFocus.com gave Felton a grade of plus-6.8. The only fullback to earn a higher grade from PFF came in 2009 when Miami’s Lousaka Polite posted a plus-7.1 against the Jets.

“Felton consistently demolished safeties and linebackers alike,” PFF wrote. “You’ll struggle to find such a dominant performance from a running back/fullback combination as this.”

Extra muscle

According to PFF, Adrian Peterson gained 112 of his 211 yards before making contact with a Bears defender. Obviously, Felton, who was a pivotal part of Peterson’s 2,097-yard MVP season a year ago, was a key part of that.

“I had asked Jerome in pregame, ‘Do you feel like you’re ready? A lot’s going to be on your shoulders today,’ ” coach Leslie Frazier said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m bringing all my tools to the game today. I’m not leaving anything in the toolshed.’ I shared that with our team before the game, that everybody needed to have that same attitude and that same approach. He played a heck of a game.”

The Vikings figured they could outmuscle a Bears defense missing six starters. And when you’re looking for extra muscle at the point of attack, it helps having a 6-foot, 248-pound All-Pro fullback with deceptively quick feet and a love for his job.

“You know, you hear a lot about how the fullback is a dying breed,” Felton said. “But look at teams that are successful this year. The 49ers, they use the fullback a lot. Seattle uses the fullback a lot. Even Indy is using the fullback a lot. The Saints use one. A good fullback is a favorable position to have.”

‘Just follow me’

There were two core play calls that Felton used to stand out on Sunday. The first is called “37 Power.” Ask Bears safety Craig Steltz how hard Felton hits on that one.

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Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 4th Qtr 0:16
Utah 97
LA Clippers 57 3rd Qtr 11:11
Portland 70
New Orleans 43 2nd Qtr 7:18
LA Lakers 35
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 0 2nd Prd 7:36
Anaheim 4
Colorado 0 2nd Prd
San Jose 0
Loyola-Chicago 63 FINAL
ULM 62
UCLA 69 FINAL
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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