With everyone in the league knowing that AD only downfall is his inability to hang onto the ball. It is usually when AD is trying to get the extra yard or so. So many fans are enraged every time he fumbles the ball away. Peterson has many more positives than negatives. He strikes fear into every defense that he faces. The opposing teams usually stop AD in order to win the game.
There have been some great that have had issues hanging onto the ball earlier in their careers as well:
Great NFL running backs fumbles per season for his first 4 season as a pro:
After 3 season Adrian Peterson is averaging 6.67
Eric Dickerson was a speedy backs that was good at making defenders miss. In his first 4 season averaged 12.25 fumbles per season.
Everyone knows Walter Payton as the number 2 all-time rushing yards leader.For Walter Payton, he averaged 8.75 fumbles per season his first 4 seasons.
Earl Campbell was a bruiser in the backfield and loved to plow over any defender that got in his way. In Campbell's case, his fumbling average was 7.75 for his first 4 seasons.
Barry Sanders did not have a offensive line anytime in his career. Sanders was far too quick for defenders to hit solidly on a consistent basis, and too strong to bring down with arm tackles. Sanders average was 6.25 fumbles per season.
Jim Brown was a complete running back when played, he had 100 yards per game for a career. Brown was also a superb receiver out of the backfield, catching 262 passes for 2,499 yards and 20 touchdowns.
For Jim Brown his fumbling average his first for seasons was 5.75.
Emmitt Smith is the NFL leader in rushing yards. He was noted for being a very durable back with excellent vision, tremendous leg strength, and great balance, and was known as one of the best second-effort runners ever.
His fumbling average in his first 4 seasons was 5.75.
This is where Adrian Peterson stacks up against the NFL greats, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame.