Adrian Peterson says he thinks he can play until age 40

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is third in the NFL in rushing and on pace for the fifth-best season by a 30-year-old running back in league history. Peterson said Wednesday he thinks he can keep defying age limitations for another decade.

Speaking on a conference call with St. Louis reporters, the running back said he thinks he can play 10 more years.

"If God's willing, I'll just be able to walk away from the game at the highest level whenever I decide," Peterson said.

Peterson, who frequently states a single-season rushing goal of 2,500 yards when asked for one, is frequently optimistic about his own potential. He said this summer he thought he could play another six or seven years, which would give him a chance to break Emmitt Smith's all-time rushing record if he stays healthy and continues to produce. With his return to the NFL off to a strong start after missing 15 games in the wake of child injury charges last year, the 2012 NFL MVP apparently is even more bullish about his chances to stay in the league.

The running back, who has posted 633 yards on 140 carries through seven games, is signed through the 2017 season, and restructured his contract with the Vikings over the summer. Peterson would need to sign another contract with the Vikings if he were to play past the age of 32, but told ESPN in August he thinks the relationship with the team is strong enough to make that happen. He said, however, the one thing that could lead him to retire earlier in his 30s is if he wants to spend more time with his kids.

"I think if I'm blessed to play [that long], I'll get a feel. I think I'll go off my gut feel," Peterson said in August. "I think I can play for a long time, but I'm just going to take it one year at a time and see how I feel, because I did enjoy myself, realizing how much I was missing, as far as my kids. Just doing simple stuff, taking them to school, picking them up, that was fun to me. I missed that. Unfortunately, it's during football season. So that could bring my career to an end earlier than expected."