<
>

Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley have never met, but respect runs deep

Getty Images, USA TODAY Sports

Separated by nine years, 106 games and 10,248 rushing yards, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley have never met.

But when asked about each other all week in advance of Sunday's Rams-Vikings game, they made their mutual respect clear.

"He is the godfather," Gurley said. "I guess I'm the godson."

Comparisons were inevitable as this weekend's game approached. Both men have battled back from major knee injuries, Peterson in 2012 and Gurley this year. They're fast and powerful: Peterson is 6 feet 1, 220 pounds; Gurley is the same height and seven pounds heavier.

Peterson, of course, remains the king of active NFL running backs, whereas Gurley is only five games into his NFL career. But he appears ready to take aim at the crown, averaging a league-best 115 rushing yards per game.

"I know that he's going to put his best foot forward," Peterson said. "I remember when I came in and there were backs that I looked up to that I encountered during the season. It was like, 'Man, I want to make sure that I outdo LT [LaDainian Tomlinson] or this guy, that guy, Frank Gore.

"I'm going to continue to do what I've been doing and I plan on putting my best foot forward. I can say [I'll give] a little more of effort just because I know this young guy is going to come in here pretty excited to play as well."

Here's a sample of the high praise Gurley and Peterson had for each other:

GURLEY ON PETERSON

On their running styles: "We kind of have the same physique. He's probably a lot more muscular. We both kind of run hard and don't like to go down."

On comparisons to Peterson: "I really don't pay attention to all the comparisons. That's for the commentators and I guess just the outside world. I definitely respect his game. He's one of the best to ever do it. I've just got to concentrate on my game and get better every day."

Does he consider comparisons to Peterson a compliment? "I've only played in four, five games. This guy's been playing in this league for a long time. I wouldn't say all that. A guy as great as him, everybody is going to look at him and try to model their game after him."

On Peterson's comeback from knee surgery: "He's definitely inspiring. Just seeing all that hard work paying off. When you come back, you're just so much more ready, a lot more focused and appreciate the game a lot more."

On whether Peterson is the gold standard of active running backs: "Yeah, there's only one AP. ... You can consider him as the best."

PETERSON ON GURLEY

On what he sees in Gurley: "He's very impressive. I like that aggression. The way he plays, just fast, physical. He's a determined runner. He does have that combination, that nice blend of power and speed and great vision. He's been more outstanding this year, man. I was doing an interview the other day and I was taking my hat off to the young guy for what he's been able to accomplish thus far, especially coming off a major knee injury."

How much it means to him that Gurley was inspired by his recovery: "It really means a lot. ... It's all about having faith and really believing that you can come back from a major injury like that, with all the chatter that's coming around and that's going to be around you and on you and projected towards you. To be able to overcome that and focus on what you ultimately want to accomplish is a huge task for anyone to do that. For him to apply himself, have that faith and that confidence in himself that he was going to come back and be better than before, it means a lot that I was able to kind of help encourage that. That's what it's all about."

On if he sees any of himself in Gurley, in terms of running style: "Yes. He's fast. He's aggressive. He plays physical. He has nice feet, nice vision. So, those are the qualities that I feel like I have as well."