Peterson vs. Johnson: ‘I’m the best’
Adrian Peterson isn’t much interested in comparisons between him and Titans RB Chris Johnson. The two face each other Sunday, but after three rushing titles between them, but 2009 was the last time either of them led the league.
The NFL’s rushing champions from 2008 and 2009 will face each other Sunday in Minneapolis, but they are each entering the game with something to prove.
The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson led the league as a rookie in 2007 with 1,341 yards and a 5.6-yard average. In 2008, he repeated as the rushing champ with 1,760 yards, the largest output of his career, and a 4.8-yard average per carry. The Titans’ Chris Johnson, in his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans, was ninth with 1,228 yards and a 4.9-yard average.
In 2009, Johnson took the rushing title from Peterson with 2,006 yards and the same whopping 5.6-yard average per carry that Peterson had in his rookie season. Peterson was sixth in 2009 with 1,383 yards and a 4.4-yard average.
In 2010, Arian Foster led the league with 1,616 yards and a 4.9-yard average. Johnson was fourth with 1,364 yards and a 4.3-yard average with Peterson sixth with 1,298 yards and a 4.6-yard average.
Their days of leading the league ended with Johnson’s 2009 performance. They face each other Sunday at Mall of America Field … but the comparisons are of no particular interest to Peterson.
“Not really. That’s for you guys to do,” he said Thursday. “I feel like I’m the best. I practice to be the best. So, focusing on other guys is not going to help me get better.”
Peterson has always maintained he was the best ever since entering the league and being compared to LaDainian Tomlinson. But the fact of the matter is that neither Peterson nor Johnson has finished higher than fourth in rushing total since Johnson’s 2,006-yard output in 2009.
“He is pretty good. I won’t elaborate into this too much. But it feels good, I can say that, just as far as the competition as an offense,” Peterson said. “We’re sound with our run game. Of course, they run the ball well. That’s something we take pride in as a group offensively is running the ball. Yeah, we want to go out and do our job and outrush these guys.”
Johnson hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2008. Peterson missed four games last year because of injury, one in 2010 and two in his rookie season of 2007.
Those four games missed in the final six games of 2011 had a big impact on his ranking in rushing yards last year. He finished 18th with 970 yards after battling ankle and knee injuries. Johnson was 14th with 1,047 yards. But, while Peterson averaged 4.7 yards per carry, Johnson averaged 4.0 yards.
Peterson had his first 100-yard game Sunday since returning from surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament on Dec. 30, but he said he doesn’t use the 100-yard landmark as a benchmark that he’s back to form.
“I’m getting better each week, just fine-tuning. I’m getting stronger,” he said. “I’m just doing the necessary things to take care of my body, icing and doing different treatments and stuff, just to keep. But I’m doing great.”
HENDERSON RETURNS FULL-TIME
LB Erin Henderson made it through an entire practice for the first time since suffering a concussion Sept. 16 against the Indianapolis Colts. Henderson finished that game, and the concussion wasn’t diagnosed until he was having problems at practice three days later.
He began practicing on a limited basis Wednesday after missing the last two games, but Thursday was his first full practice.
“He went through everything. That was encouraging, so we’re optimistic about him playing in this ballgame,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.
“With the time he’s missed and the fact that he was able to go through the entire practice, that’s a good sign.”
That’s good news for the Vikings because Henderson’s replacement the last two games, Marvin Mitchell, left practice early Thursday after “stretching” his calf. He appeared frustrated by the injury as he entered the building to get the calf examined. He will have an MRI to check on the severity of it.
If Mitchell and Henderson aren’t available, Tyrone McKenzie or rookie Audie Cole would be next in line.
The Vikings will keep Jasper Brinkley in as the nickel linebacker with Chad Greenway even if Henderson does play. Henderson held that role for the first two games.
The Vikings were also without defensive end Jared Allen Thursday, and QB Christian Ponder was limited Thursday.
Allen injured his groin in Sunday’s game, but Frazier said he expects him to be ready for Sunday.
“We just want to be a little bit cautious because he’s a little bit sore. He’ll get some work tomorrow,” Frazier said.
Ponder hurt his right knee Sunday, but offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he wasn’t even aware of the injury until Wednesday. Ponder had a small wrap on the knee for his Wednesday press conference, but Frazier said he was doing better on Thursday.
“It didn’t bother him very much on Monday but it was really sore on Wednesday,” Frazier said. “Much better today. He didn’t have any inhibitions today. He was fine.”
In addition to Allen, safeties Andrew Sendejo (ankle) and Mistral Raymond (ankle) didn’t practice Thursday.
Joining Ponder on the injury report as limited participants were WR Michael Jenkins (rib), G Charlie Johnson (back), CB Marcus Sherels (quad), CB Antoine Winfield (knee) and LB Marvin Mitchell (calf).
For the Titans, LB Patrick Bailey (hand), WR Kenny Britt (ankle), QB Jake Locker (shoulder), DE Scott Solomon (hamstring) and LB Colin McCarthy (ankle) didn't practice. G Steve Hutchinson, the former Viking, didn't practice, but it wasn't injury-related. TE Jared Cook (ankle) was limited.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.