Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/22/11
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Among the many records Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has captured during his short five-year NFL career, there is one particular mark he holds above all the others. Peterson has said his favorite record is the all-time, single-game rushing mark he set as a rookie, when he ran for 296 yards in just his eighth game as a pro. The records keep adding up for Peterson, including this season when he has set new team marks for career rushing touchdowns and most games with a rushing score. He became the sixth-fastest player in NFL history to reach 6,000 yards rushing, reaching the total in just 63 games. Now, Peterson is nearing a mark which could sit near his favored record on his list of accomplishments the Vikings' all-time rushing mark. Peterson is 104 yards away from Robert Smith's team record of 6,818 yards. "It will mean a lot," Peterson said. "Just going into my fifth year and completing my fifth year, and having that record that's been held for a long time, it will mean a lot just to accomplish that within a short period of time." Peterson has 932 yards rushing this season despite missing three games and most of a fourth with a high ankle sprain, giving him 6,714 in 72 career games. Smith set the record during his eight-year career, limited by injuries to 98 games during that time. Smith isn't surprised by Peterson's quick rise to the top position. As a college football analyst for ESPN, Smith saw the talent first-hand while Peterson was at the University of Oklahoma. "When he was drafted, I was excited," Smith said. "He was one of my favorite players to watch in college and he was drafted onto my team and the same position. The same day he was drafted I said if he stayed healthy, my record might remain for the rest of the decade, but I expected him to break it shortly into the next one. I knew it was going to happen and I'm excited for him." Smith dealt with injuries throughout his career and chose to finish his career early instead of going through more punishment, retiring in 2000 after playing all 16 games for the first time in his career. Peterson had similar questions leading up to the 2007 draft, part of the reason he slipped to Minnesota with the No. 7 pick. Yet, he had missed only three games in his NFL career entering this season though. Despite missing three games and most of a fourth this year with a high ankle sprain, Peterson is 17th in the league in rushing and his 12 touchdowns are tied for fifth. "It's kind of absurd to call running backs injury-prone," Smith said. "It's the nature of the position. Running backs have short careers and that's why you have multiple backs on a team and why I think it s impressive guys like Adrian run with that type of fury and that type of intensity and stay healthy at all." Peterson and Smith have more similarities than might be expected. While Peterson could eclipse Smith's record in just his fifth season, the numbers do match up. Smith reached his total on 1,411 carries for a 4.832 yards-per-carry average. Peterson has taken 1,394 carries for a 4.816 yard average. Peterson is just 68 yards away from his fifth-straight 1,000-yard season, a benchmark Peterson admits he'd like to reach. He also knows he is nearing the all-time team rushing record, but nothing surprises Peterson. "I have high expectations for myself to be able to accomplish all the things I have and I look forward to," Peterson said. "And I work hard to put myself in that position." Peterson's work ethic and humility isn't lost on those around him. "For a superstar to be as humble as he is and as open as he is, it is so rare," coach Leslie Frazier said. "When you are as talented and so well known, usually those guys are a little bit removed in some ways and you really don't know the person although you think publically you know them. But Adrian is really in a lot of ways, what you see is what you get. That's rare. He's a special guy and a special talent as well." After five years of blocking for Peterson, Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser is still in awe of the four-time Pro Bowler. "He's a beast," Kleinsasser said. "You watch him and any play can be a home run for him. He punishes defensive players. It's not like he's just tip-toeing around. He's delivering the shots most of the time. Just to be able to do that, with the amount of carries he gets and pound down defenses, it's unbelievable."
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