With continued good health and ageless production, Adrian Peterson could be hurdling legendary runners on a weekly basis this season as he climbs from his spot at No. 17 on the NFL’s career rushing list.
With 11,675 yards, the 31-year-old Vikings running back needs only 638 yards to overtake Browns Hall of Famer Jim Brown. That could earn Peterson the No. 8 spot, although there is one active runner — Frank Gore — who is ahead of Peterson at No. 15 (12,040).
Nine of the top 10 rushers in NFL history are in the Hall of Fame. The other one — LaDanian Tomlinson at No. 5 (13,684) — will be a first-ballot selection and highlight the Class of 2017.
Peterson won his third rushing title a year ago and will be trying to tie Curtis Martin’s record for oldest rushing champion this season. And because this is Peterson we’re talking about, we’ll throw this out there as well: With 2,010 yards, he can move past LT into fifth place at 13,685 yards.
More realistically for this season, he could pass No. 8 Tony Dorsett with 1,065 yards and No. 7 Eric Dickerson with 1,585 yards.
Career rushing leader Emmitt Smith sits 6,680 yards away at 18,355. Not even AP believes 6,681 is possible in one season.
Peterson was asked how it will feel to pass all these players this season. Others he would pass on his way to Brown include Thurman Thomas, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen and Marshall Faulk.
“I’m sure it will feel good,” he said. “But I’m really more focused on helping my team win each week. I know records are made to be broke … it will be cool when I’m able to sit back and take it all in as I gradually pass everyone.
“I just try to stay humble and keep working and not get caught up in the hype and everything. Just keep putting the work in.”