Adrian Peterson and 5 NFL Stars Enjoying Their Best Seasons Yet
They say that "NFL" stands for "not for long", and as evidenced by all the hype surrounding such newcomers as quarterback Robert Griffin of the Washington Redskins and running back Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's very true.
Everyone loves the shiny new toy.
However, as the players on this list demonstrate, just because you've been around the block once or twice doesn't mean you can't still get it done.
In fact, you can do it as well (or better) than you ever have before.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
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What Adrian Peterson is doing this season for the Minnesota Vikings is nothing short of amazing.
Given that the sixth-year pro tore both his ACL and MCL on Christmas Eve last year, it was remarkable for Peterson to even be on the field on opening day.
However, not only is Peterson playing, but he's leading the NFL with 1,128 rushing yards and averaging more yards per carry and game than in any season of his illustrious career.
"All Day" indeed.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
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Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne has enjoyed a great deal of success in his 11-plus seasons in the NFL, but with the Colts entering the 2012 season in full-on rebuilding mode Wayne appeared crazy when he re-upped with the team last spring.
Crazy like a fox.
The Colts are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL in 2012 at 6-3, due in large part to the exploits of the 33-year-old, who already has nearly as many receiving yards in nine games this season as he had in 16 a year ago.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
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Both of the players I mentioned so far on this list will probably one day be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but with tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons there is absolutely zero doubt.
The 36-year-old is arguably the best to ever play at his position. In Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons, he became the first tight end in NFL history to amass 100 touchdown catches in his career.
Not only that, but Gonzalez has been a model of consistency and durability over his 16-year career, and his 617 receiving yards so far in 2012 is good for the top spot among tight ends.
Not bad for an old man.
Chad Greenway, LB, Minnesota Vikings
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When you ask folks to start rattling off the top linebackers in the National Football League, names like Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers, Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers and Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens will no doubt be mentioned, as will a number of others.
Odds are very few people will mention Chad Greenway of the Minnesota Vikings, but they should.
The seventh-year pro has been rock-solid on the strong side of the Vikings' 4-3 defense for several years, and after 10 weeks it's Greenway, and not his much more ballyhooed contemporaries, who leads the NFL in tackles with 99.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
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Then there's this guy.
Granted, Peyton Manning has posted some ridiculous numbers over his 15-year career, so from a strictly statistical standpoint this year's numbers may not be his best ever.
However, after missing all of last season after undergoing multiple neck surgeries, the four-time NFL MVP ranks fifth in passing yardage, third in touchdown passes and first in quarterback rating. Given the circumstances that makes Manning's 2012 campaign his most impressive ever.
If he keeps this up, Manning may well be the first player to win both Comeback Player of the Year and NFL MVP since Ken Anderson in 1981.