Adrian Peterson still has his burst, speed

A new statistical gauge shows Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson still has rare speed.

Adrian Peterson leads the NFL in rushing yards through Week 4. He has 372 yards on the ground, but it’s only five more than second-place Matt Forte.

After Peterson rushed for 126 yards, two touchdowns and a 6.3-yard average against the San Diego Chargers, he said he thought he was all the way back. That wasn’t his estimation after the season opener.

Last week, Peterson had one those games that he labels “famine, famine, feast” – meaning he might not break a lot of long runs, but eventually he will. Against the Denver Broncos, Peterson carried only 16 times for 81 yards, but his “feast” came when broke off a 48-yard touchdown run with a hole pried wide open up the middle.

If fans wondered if his speed was back – a legitimate question considering there were a couple plays in the running and passing game in previous weeks that he was caught from behind – he put those fears to rest.

According to the Next Gen Stats cited by, Peterson reached a season-best 21.89 miles per hour on that run. It was the highest speed he reached in four weeks of play, and it was also the highest speed registered of any running in Week 4.

“I think what Adrian has shown through these first four games is that he looks like Adrian Peterson,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “That run he had in this Denver game, once he hit that crease, I didn’t see him with less speed than I saw before. I mean, he came out there like he (was propelled). I think Adrian, and just watching him practice, he’s Adrian Peterson and he’s a unique player and we’re fortunate to have him.”

Peterson will certainly have a hard time reaching his 2012 rushing total of 2,097 yards – he would have to average 144 yards per game to do that – but he’s actually ahead of his 2012 pace after four games. Back then, Peterson was off to a slow start coming off of knee surgery and had 332 yards through four games, 40 fewer yards than he has now. And through the first six games he had only 100-yard game and has two of those in 2015.

But over the last 10 games of 2012 he averaged 159.8 yards per game.

He’s in a difference offense now, with both him and Vikings coaches trying to figure out the best way to maximize his talents and the play winning football.

“I think because we didn’t have him last year,” Spielman said, “I think that’s part of the process that our coaches and players are going through – what do we do well?”

Here’s one thing: Hand the ball off to Peterson and watch him work. 

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