Jerome Felton's career with the Vikings didn't start off on the best foot, but it has ended with his first Pro Bowl selection of his five-year NFL career. Felton played his first three seasons with Detroit and last year with Carolina and was one of the priority free agents the Vikings signed last spring to be the battering-ram running block Smoky and the Bandit style for Adrian Peterson.
His Vikings career took a significant hit before he played a down when he was arrested for DWI. There was some speculation that he might get cut as a result, but Felton proved himself to the coaching staff that he belonged on the roster. Four months later, he proved to the rest of the NFL that he was one of the top fullbacks in the league.
Felton has come a long way during the season and his Pro Bowl selection has been part of a whirlwind season that has seen him enjoy individual and team success.
"We've put ourselves (in position) to have a chance for the playoffs and getting this Pro Bowl nod means a lot to me," Felton said. "As the season started I had high hopes for us as an offense and me as a player. Luckily, we've had a lot of success and we have a chance to continue it. That's what we're focused on right now."
Felton's decision to sign with the Vikings wasn't simply because Minnesota came to him and his agent early with an offer. He wanted to play for a team that he knew would run the ball and, after signing Peterson to a contract that had the potential to be worth $100 million last year, the Vikings were locked in to having a strong running presence for years to come and it factored in heavily in his decision-making process.
"It was huge," Felton said. "I just wanted to go somewhere where I knew they were going to be committed to running the football. Obviously when you've got a guy like Adrian and the contract they signed him to, you knew that was what the situation was going to be. It was a big part of my decision."
The biggest hurdle Felton faced when he came to Minnesota was that Peterson doesn't like fullbacks. He's always been one who has preferred to pick his own holes and run without anyone in front of him cutting a path. It took time for Felton and A.P. to build the trust together, but, given that he is averaging seven yards a carry on plays in which Felton is leading the way, their bond has grown stronger throughout the season.
"Our relationship has grown and evolved throughout the season," Felton said. "I can tell he's enjoying what's going on right now and, like I always say, great backs like what works and right now we're having a lot of success."
Felton wasn't shocked when head coach Leslie Frazier came into the offensive meeting room Wednesday to inform he and Peterson that they had both been selected to the Pro bowl. It wasn't a matter of overconfidence, but rather the word on the street that he was hearing from fellow players.
"I was looking forward to it because I felt I had a chance," Felton said. "I don't want to say I was expecting it, just because you play hard and let the chips fall where they may. Just talking with guys I was playing against and what they thought, I was definitely hopeful."
As Felton prepares to help the Vikings get in the playoffs, he has the warm feeling that comes with being picked as the best player at his position. He wasn't the top vote-getter among the fans, but that doesn't bother him in the least. If anything, it means more because he had to win the other two facets of the voting process to get in and he accomplished that.
"Not to say anything bad about the fans – you want the fan vote – but just to be selected to the Pro Bowl among your peers and coaches in the NFL means a lot," Felton said. "There's not a better way to get in than like that."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Felton thought he had a Pro Bowl shot
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