Jason Hall

Adrian Peterson Out To Prove Age Is Just Another Number

Jul 05, 2014 7:46 PM EST

NFL running backs just aren't the same once they hit age 30. At least, that's the myth many experts hold true.

The debate on when a professional running back reaches a downward spiral in production can be measured by statistics, patterns and trends. Data will suggest that the average rusher reaches the twilight of his career at this plateu.

But Adrian Peterson is far from the average running back.

The cornerstone of the Minnesota Vikings franchise will have 30 candles on his birthday cake next March, leaving many to speculate just how much Peterson has left in the tank. Coming off recent groin surgery, Peterson is entering the fourth year of a seven-year contract that expires just before he turns 32.

But, once again, Adrian Peterson is far from the average running back.

This is the same player that bounced back from a season-ending ACL injury to nearly break the single-season rushing record the following year. Peterson's work ethic and production are far from average, earning him the moniker "All Day" for his high motor even at a young age.

And yet, all good things must come to an end at some point. Like an automobile, running backs eventually wear down with mileage, and we all know Peterson has plenty of that.

During the first seven years of an already decorated NFL career, Peterson literally carried the Vikings offense. With the exception of a resurgent season from rented ex-rival Brett Favre in 2009, Peterson has never truly had a franchise quarterback and, therefore, lacked any balance brought on by a strong passing attack.

The Vikings have been a one-dimensional, run-heavy offense for the majority of Peterson's career and defenses have taken notice. With arguably the best running back of the past decade lining up behind the likes of Tarvaris Jackson, Gus Frerotte and Christian Ponder, there's no question why Peterson ranks fourth in career rushing attempts among active backs.

But the Vikings may have cashed in on an insurance policy through the NFL Draft. Minnesota selected former Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater with the No. 32 overall pick last May.

Should last year’s preseason Heisman favorite live up to the high expectations and find chemistry with veterans Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph, as well as up-and-comer Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings passing attack may finally be able to take some pressure off of Peterson. Instead of eight players in the box on every first and second down, defenses may actually need to key in on potential passing plays, freeing up space for the always dangerous Peterson to break a long run.

Combined with less wear and tear and the aforementioned astonishing work ethic, an improved passing attack could add to the longevity of Peterson's career.

I'm not going to tell you that Peterson isn't human and defies the laws of aging, however, it would be foolish to doubt his production in the near future. He's proven doubters wrong and will continue to do so, at least until his current deal expires, making him a legitimate contender to challenge for the NFL career rushing title and a serious threat to prove that age is just another number.