NFL Wire News

Gurley and Peterson comparisons big story this week

on

The Sports Xchange

EARTH CITY, Mo. — As the St. Louis Rams prepare to travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings, the comparison and narrative is inescapable. As Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley has burst on the scene with the best first four starts in league history, he will now be in a game where Adrian Peterson will be on the other side.

At first, Gurley stated the obvious when he was asked about the matchup with Peterson. “I’m not matching up against him because he’s on offense,” Gurley said. “It’s cool to be out there and just have fun and play our game.”

But he knew that wasn’t the end of it, especially considering how Gurley has said in the past Peterson was the example he followed coming back from a torn ACL.

Peterson was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 when he rushed for 1,341 yards. Gurley has 575 yards, while missing two games and having only six carries in his first game in Week 3. Peterson, of course, came back from a torn ACL suffered late in the 2011 season to rush for 2,097 yards in 2012.

When Peterson was described as “the gold standard of running backs” by a reporter, Gurley said. “Yeah, there’s only one AP. Like you said, he’s the gold standard. You can consider him as the best.”

That hasn’t stopped many from comparing the two, even Gurley. “We kind of have the same physique,” Gurley said. “He’s probably a lot more muscular. We both kind of run hard and don’t like to go down.”

Former NFL running back Herschel Walker, who like Gurley attended Georgia, visited Rams practice Tuesday because he was in town for an MMA event. Told that Walker said Peterson is the godfather and Gurley the new kid on the block, Gurley responded, “You can definitely say that. He is the godfather. I guess I’m the godson.”

Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerly was impressed with what he’s seen of Gurley. “This guy, he’s special,” Munnerlyn said. “He’s Adrian Peterson all over again. … People don’t realize how big he is. He can hit you with the home-run speed. He’s a young Adrian Peterson, but I like our Adrian Peterson better.”

Said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer of Gurley, “Obviously, he’s very explosive. He finds the seams and the creases extremely well. He runs with his pads down. He runs violently. I think he does a really good job with his vision, which is important for backs. Then, he has the acceleration to hit the home run. So, he’s very, very good.”

Peterson also chimed in, saying, “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.”

When asked if he had talked to Gurley during his recovery, Peterson said, “No, I didn’t have the opportunity to reach out to him, but I know through my process there were a lot of things that I said, that there was a reason why I said it. As far as a mindset and the work that it takes, the right mix of what it takes to come back from that type of an injury, to hear you say that, it really means a lot. The things I had to say were real. 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.”

With this week’s matchup being closely scrutinized, Peterson was asked if there is extra motivation with Gurley on the other sideline. He said, “I know that he’s going to put his best foot forward. 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 out-do ‘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 a little more of effort just because I know this young guy is going to come in here pretty excited to play as well.”

Will Gurley have added incentive? He said simply, “I’m just going to go out there and play like I always play. Try to play hard and get a win.”

Meanwhile, Fisher was asked what Gurley hasn’t done yet. He said, “You haven’t seen a 200-yard rushing day out of him.” He then added, “It’ll happen.”

SERIES HISTORY: 37th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 20-14-2. Minnesota has won the last three games in the series, all in St. Louis, by a combined score of 108-38. They have also won four of the last five games played. That includes the season opener last year that the Vikings won, 34-6. The only Rams win in that stretch was a 41-21 victory at Minnesota in 2006.

GAME PLAN

–The Rams’ offensive approach remains the same: Feed running back Todd Gurley and try to get WR Tavon Austin to the edge either on quick passes or jet sweeps. Austin has also had some success on runs up the middle. The Rams do want to spread the ball around to other receivers. However, in Sunday’s game against San Francisco, aside from Austin, who had seven targets, wide receivers Stedman Bailey (three), Kenny Britt (two) and Brian Quick and Bradley Marquez (one each) had a total of seven targets.

Defensively, the Rams’ main goal will be to limit big plays from running back Adrian Peterson, while getting pressure on QB Teddy Bridgewater.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

–Rams DRE Robert Quinn vs. Vikings LT Matt Kalil.

Quinn isn’t 100 percent, but he had a sack last week and has 5.0 for the season, so Kalil will still be challenged. Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater has been sacked 20 times, so the pass protection will have to contend with a Rams defense that has 26 sacks.

–Rams DLT Aaron Donald vs. Vikings RG Mike Harris.

This is another matchup the Rams should win. Donald is disruptive against the run and pass, and the Vikings might need C Joe Berger to give Harris help.

–Rams LT Greg Robinson vs. Vikings DRE Everson Griffen.

Robinson is improving as a pass blocker, but is still inconsistent. Griffen leads the Vikings with 4.5 sacks, so Robinson will have to be on point. Or course, the Rams don’t throw the ball a lot. The 187 pass attempts by Nick Foles are the fewest of any quarterback that has started all his team’s games.


About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business