The NFL has hyped several “next Adrian Peterson” comparisons through the years, with most of them falling woefully short.
While San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon isn’t making that brash comparison, Peterson is happy to have the rookie as an admirer, even if classifying Gordon as a “Peterson groupie” might be overstating the case.
“I don’t know about groupie, but I’m a big fan,” Gordon said.
“(Peterson) wins the games. He takes over the games. What I really liked most was when he really didn’t have much help and the team was depending on him and he came through. And even when everyone knew he was getting the ball he made it happen. You’ve got to really respect backs that do that.”
After gaining 4,915 yards rushing at Wisconsin, including 2,587 last year and 1,609 as a junior, Gordon became the Chargers’ first-round draft pick and hasn’t disappointed to date. Through two games, he is averaging a solid 4.6 yards on 30 carries.
That includes a 27-yard run last week against the Cincinnati Bengals that Peterson called “amazing.”
“I like his feet. He’s got real nice feet,” Peterson said. “He runs physical. He’s quick in between the tackles. I think maybe that’s why I like him so much. It reminds me of how I would run the ball the times I’m presented with. People are presented with so many different talents at the running back position. … He runs the ball downhill north and south. That’s what I like most.”
Gordon has received some insight on Peterson’s off-the-field talents during the offseason and preseason from a close friend on the Minnesota Vikings, rookie cornerback Trae Waynes. Gordon and Waynes remain “homeboys” from Kenosha, Wisc., each of them becoming first-round picks in this year’s draft.
Waynes knows Gordon’s admiration of Peterson and has filled in his San Diego buddy on Peterson’s legendary work ethic.
“It ain’t nothing I haven’t heard before, really,” Gordon said. “Everyone knows how he practices, how he works. I like to ask questions.”
Peterson showed he still is one of the NFL’s best running backs last week when he ran for 134 yards against the Detroit Lions. The Chargers, however, proved to be the team providing the biggest highlights of Peterson’s career. In 2007, Peterson ran for the NFL single-game record when he produced an amazing 296-yard effort after gaining 43 yards in the first half of that game.
“I came out that second half, took it one play at a time and made some better reads on some runs and was able to take advantage of it,” Peterson said.
Gordon was 14 at the time and calls it “dope” and a “huge compliment” that Peterson sees some similarities, but Gordon isn’t the one making the comparisons.
“Nah. I think there’s only one Melvin, one A.P,” he said. “Every running back is special in their own way and you really can’t be like that back no matter what you try to do.”
Either way, Peterson feels good to be getting the admiration of the younger running backs entering the league.
“It feels good to be a trend-setter … that’s a standard that I want to set and leave behind when I’m done playing the game,” Peterson said.
“It makes me feel I’m serving my purpose. … That’s another back that comes in and has that same mentality.”