By Joseph Gunther
Jerome Felton, FB #42
Hometown: Madisonville, TN
Experience: 5 years
Jerome Felton remembered watching Adrian Peterson from his days with the Detroit Lions and wondering how good they could be together.
The Vikings needed to improve its blocking and Felton needed a new home. The two were a perfect fit.
“I was like, ‘Man, if I could ever team up with him, I think it would be something special,” he said last week. “That was a big thing, just to have the opportunity to come here and be able to block for him. He’s obviously a future Hall of Famer.”
The what-if scenario has played out pretty nicely for Peterson and the Vikings’ offense.
“We’ve gone back in time a little bit with our two-back runs and they’ve proved to be beneficial,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said at a press conference late last week. “Adrian has done a nice job of following his blocks and Jerome has done a good job seeking out linebackers and safeties and doing his part.”
In the past Peterson has expressed his preference to run without a lead blocker, but may be finding it a bit easier with Felton in front of him.
“We just want him to be difficult to defend,” Musgrave said. “We thought with the fullback, those runs are a little bit tougher to defend at times in today’s defenses and we were lucky to find a guy like Jerome who could fill that spot.”
Felton felt the same way.
“They brought me in here to make life a little easier on (Peterson), and I like to say I’m doing that,” he said. “He gives me an opportunity to show what I can do to the league and hopefully, vice versa, I make life easier on him. Definitely a lot of pride in that.”
All levels of football are seeing less and less importance for a fullback.
“I think it is (a dying breed) in the high school and college game and there’s a lot of ways to skin the cat, but it just happens to be our way currently to do some fullback-led runs,” Musgrave said.
Felton, along with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and easily the best in the NFC North Division, have led the way for Peterson’s record setting chase. Peterson needs just 294 yards in the last two games to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record.
“I think it means a lot to the team,” Felton said. “You kind of hear guys in the locker room talking about it. You hear the media talk about it a little bit. It’s within reach, and I feel like it’s something that he’s capable of doing and I think he wants it so we want it for him.”
He has just 42 carries in his career for 136 yards and 36 catches for 298 yards, but is not going to earn his money by touching the football. Ironically, the first time he touched the ball this season with the Vikings was a five-yard reception against the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, the Lions.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.