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Father Time might find it tough catching Adrian Peterson

Peterson has suffered a litany of injuries as a college and NFL running back. But an incredible work ethic keeps the former Sooner churning out yards for the Vikings.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 9, 2014

Adrian Peterson is like every other American — he watches videos on the internet.

And he’s been on YouTube and seen men running sprints. These aren’t your average sprinters; they’re in the 40s and 50s. But these aren’t your average old guys either.

Peterson has seen them run 400 meters in 48 seconds.

That wouldn’t win an Olympic medal — or even get a spot on the American team these days — but for guys who are closer to retirement than high school, that is impressive.

“And it’s all because they put that work in,” Peterson said Wednesday during a conference call promoting a medical recovery device called Hyperice. “As long as you have the mindset to work and then you have what you need to be able to take care of the body, then you’re able.”

Which brings us to the 29-year-old running back.

Peterson isn’t a youngster anymore, not in the world of NFL tailbacks anyway. He stands on the precipice of his 30s, which is the unofficial benchmark for old at his position.

Only three running backs in their 30s got the bulk of the carries for their respective teams last season.

So, is the end of Peterson’s dominance near?

Or can he overcome age like he has injuries?

What Peterson has already done to fight off the ravages of a running back is downright amazing.

Remember the Texas A&M game his freshman season at Oklahoma? He dislocated his left shoulder in the first half, but with the Sooners struggling to keep national championship game hopes alive, he basically told the trainers that they were going to pop his shoulder back into place and that he was going to play.

They did, and so did he.

Peterson’s first play back was a third-and-2 late in the game. Get it, and the Sooners could milk the clock. Fall short, and the Aggies would have a shot at winning the game.

Peterson bullied his way to a 4-yard gain.

He’s come through lots more injuries since. A broken collarbone his junior season. A torn lateral collateral ligament his rookie season in Minneapolis. A pulled hamstring his second season.

Then, of course, came the ACL tear.

It happened late in the 2011 season, and everyone immediately wondered if he could ever be the same. Would he ever run as fast? Would he ever cut as well? And most of all, would he want to take contact like he always had, want to run guys over, want to be physically punishing?

Yes, yes and yes.

Peterson nearly broke the NFL’s single-season record for rushing yards the next season. It will forever stand as one of the most remarkable seasons in the history of the league.

Peterson has overcome injury because he has a relentless work ethic. Oh, he has a high pain tolerance, too, but he talked Wednesday about his workout regimen while coming back from that blown out knee and it was downright remarkable to hear.

“I can’t really express to you how hard I worked, how hard I grinded,” Peterson said. “After two months, I was working out twice a day.”

First, he went to the Vikings’ facility and rehabbed the knee for an hour or so, riding a stationary bike, lifting weights some and doing an extensive litany of stretching exercises. Then, there was an hour or more of upper-body workouts.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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