MINNEAPOLIS -- In 98 career NFL games, Jerome Felton has made a living doing the kind of dirty work that makes his backfield teammates look good. Felton is the first guy into a hole, the opening act for the main event, the one who will get a sore neck so the running back behind him doesn't get touched. He had a successful college career carrying the ball at Furman, but his NFL living has come as a lead blocker, not a leading man.
So when Felton scored his first NFL touchdown on Sunday, it was somewhat fitting that it happened by accident.
Teddy Bridgewater threw a strike early in the second quarter to Charles Johnson, who separated from his man on a comeback route and looked to be on his way to his second touchdown. Johnson, though, lost the ball at the 1-yard line, and Felton -- who had chased the play downfield to throw a block for Johnson -- fell on the ball for a TD.
"it popped out right there and I was just able to dive on it," Felton said. "It’s kind of a cheap touchdown, but I’ll take it."
The fullback has expressed some frustration at his reduced role in Norv Turner's offense, which doesn't employ a pure blocking back as extensively as the Vikings did when Felton was paving the way for Adrian Peterson's 2,097-yard season, but Felton still has played at a high level when the Vikings have used him, and he could merit Pro Bowl consideration with a little larger role. He would earn a $500,000 bonus if he made it to the Pro Bowl after taking a pay cut this offseason in exchange for an option on his 2015 contract. On Sunday, he was simply happy to leave with the ball from his first NFL touchdown -- which Felton said he'd keep.
"He doesn’t get enough credit around here," Bridgewater said. "I know he just scored his first career touchdown today, but he doesn’t get enough credit. He’s the guy in there doing the dirty work, opening holes and taking on linebackers."
Not that the TD didn't come at a cost to the usual suspects; while Johnson was talking about the fumble with reporters after the game, he said, "I'm kind of upset I didn't get the touchdown." From two lockers away, backup quarterback Christian Ponder chimed in, "So is Teddy."
Felton, who's one of the most approachable and self-effacing players in the Vikings' locker room, was a good sport about things. Asked if Johnson would owe him dinner for picking up the fumble, Felton said, "I might owe him dinner for getting me my first touchdown."