In his prime, Adrian Peterson was an undeniable force — so much so that the former Minnesota Vikings running back is the only non-quarterback in the last 11 seasons to have been awarded the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.
That year — 2012 — Peterson came just eight yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s all-time single-season rushing record, finishing with 2,097 yards — a feat all the more impressive, considering he was coming off a torn ACL a year prior.
But that was then. Six years can be an eternity in the NFL — and these days, it’s fair to wonder: just how much does Peterson have left?
The Redskins, depleted at running back, are willing to find out.
How much of a role the 33-year-old will fill for the Redskins remains to be seen — after all, there’s no guarantee he’ll even make the 53-man roster.
Still, taking a flyer on Peterson could be worth it for the Redskins.
Coach Jay Gruden said Sunday he’s not looking for a starter, even with second-rounder Derrius Guice lost for the year with a torn ACL. For now, Rob Kelley figures to hang on to the role he’s held the last two seasons.
But with Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall out with ankle injuries, Washington needed backfield insurance.
Gruden said Perine is expected to be back soon, but he mentioned injured reserve as a possibility for Marshall. Undrafted free agent Martez Cartez was also waived with a leg injury.
Over the weekend, the Redskins had only three healthy backs on the roster: Kelley, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs. Washington also wants to limit snaps for Thompson, who has a lengthy injury history and is coming off a broken leg suffered last season.
Left tackle Trent Williams told The Washington Times on Sunday that Peterson “hasn’t slowed down a step” as the running back has gotten older.
“You don’t bring a guy like that in to be depth,” said Williams, who trains with Peterson in the offseason and is the running back’s former college teammate “You don’t. “So whatever role he’s given, I’m pretty sure he would go with it.
“But if he’s coming in here and they sign him, he’s coming in to help.”
Peterson had an up-and-down 2017. He was traded after just four games with the New Orleans Saints, as he was reportedly unhappy with a smaller role next to Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.
But in Arizona, Peterson showed signs he could still be explosive. He had two games in which he ran for 134 yards and 159 yards, respectively. On the other hand, the running back rushed for less than 3.5 yards per carry in six of his 10 games last year.
In total, Peterson had 529 yards for two touchdowns. He suffered a season-ending neck injury in November and Arizona released him in March.
The Redskins, though, were unhappy with their 28th-ranked rushing attack last season. That’s why the organization drafted Guice and was pleased with Kelley returning in better shape. Peterson appears to be another swing by the Redskins to fix it.
If Peterson makes the roster, he’ll face his former team, the Cardinals, in Week 1.
“It’s not often you get to play with a first ballot Hall of Famer twice,” Williams said.
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