Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Where will Adrian rate in NFL's best poll?

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Adrian Peterson Updated: June 16, 2011 - 4:47 PM

The argument about whether the Vikings' Adrian Peterson or Titans' Chris Johnson is the better running back has been ongoing for about a year.

Johnson started the debate last offseason when he told the Sporting News that, "You've still got people debating -- is it Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson? No way possible there should be a debate about who's the best running back in the NFL."

Johnson had rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009 and set an NFL record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage. Peterson didn't exactly agree and made it clear that he feels he is the league's top running back. He reiterated that point this week during a live chat on ESPN's website.

Asked about if it sounded right that he had tied with Johnson in a recent poll of ESPN NFL writers for best offensive player (non-quarterback), Peterson responded: "No, that doesn't sound right. I'm not cocky at all. But I feel like the work I put in, there are not many guys like me. Johnson is a great player and I have much respect for him but I have been in the league longer and he needs to put in more work to be in the same category. But he is a great player that I love to watch."

So how is this disagreement going to be solved? The folks at NFL Network are going to provide a bit of help through their ongoing countdown of the top 100 current players. So far there have been sixrunning backs among the top 31 that have been revealed. They are:

  • Oakland's Darren McFadden (98)
  • San Francisco's Frank Gore (94)
  • Baltimore's Ray Rice (56)
  • Atlanta's Michael Turner (42)
  • St. Louis' Steven Jackson (38)
  • Kansas City's Jamaal Charles (33)

Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew and Houston's Arian Foster will join the group at 7 p.m. this Sunday when players Nos. 21-30 are revealed. (We don't know where Jones-Drew and Foster will rank.) An NFL Network spokesman said that only two running backs remain. Obviously, that will be Peterson and Johnson in some order.

Fans might have to be patient because players Nos. 11-20 will be revealed at 7 p.m. on June 26, before players Nos. 6-10 are named at 7 p.m. on July 3 and players Nos. 1-5 are named at 8 p.m. that same day.

More than 400 current NFL players were polled for the list, so while the rankings can certainly be a subject for debate it at least means that Peterson and Johnson's peers have weighed in with their feelings.

Last season, Johnson finished fourth in the NFL by rushing for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns on 316 carries, meaning he averaged 4.3 yards a touch in 16 games. Peterson finished sixth, rushing for 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns on 283 carries, meaning he averaged 4.6 yards a touch in 15 games.




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