While coach Matt Patricia wouldn’t say, don’t be surprised to see newest the Lions running back Adrian Peterson on the field on Sunday in the home opener against the Chicago Bears.
“We’ll see, it’s Monday, he just got here, so we’ll see how everything goes,’’ Patricia said on a Zoom conference call on Labor Day.
The Lions announced the signed Peterson, a 35-year-old free agent, on Monday. He had been released by the Washington Redskins on Friday.
“Glad to see him in our uniform — saw him too many years in purple and gold and he was doing his thing against us,’’ quarterback Matthew Stafford said on a Zoom call. “Nice to have him. Obviously a really talented player, one of the greats at the position. I think he raises the bar for a lot of people just to go out there and watch the way this guy works at the age he is and what he’s accomplished.’’
Certainly Peterson’s familiarity with Darrell Bevell, the Vikings offensive coordinator at the time who is now with the Lions, played a factor. The two worked together from 2007-10.
“It was a great part, kind of a perfect storm to get him here. Being so familiar with Bev’s offense and obviously being very productive in that offense,’’ Patricia said.
As a rookie, Peterson set an NFL game record when he rushed for 296 yards against the Chargers.
“So that’s always a good draw when you have that kind of production in an offensive scheme,’’ Patricia said.
“Being familiar with the type of offense we run, for him to be able to come in without a training camp, step right in and hopefully try to contribute I think it’s a big factor, it gave us a little bit of an advantage,’’ the coach added.
That was a few years back, but Peterson’s production the past two seasons was 898 rushing yards (2019) and 1,042 in 2018. He averaged 4.3 and 4.2 yards per carry. In his 13-year career he’s averaged 4.7 yards per carry — an absolute gaudy number compared to what any Lions’ running back has accomplished since Hall of Famer Barry Sanders averaged 5.0 yards per carry.
Peterson’s experience in the running backs room should also prove valuable. Kerryon Johnson enters his third season and only played in 18 games total, eight of them in 2019. D’Andre Swift, a second-round pick, is a rookie. (Bo Scarborough was placed on injured reserve.)
“I think it’s always great to see young players see vets who have been in the league a long time, see how they approach game week, how they approach preparation, how they practice and how they perform,’’ Patricia said. “That’s a big part of younger players developing and becoming professional at this level right out of college.’’
While Swift and Johnson have had some injuries during training camp, Patricia said that is not why the decision to sign Peterson was made.
“With Adrian Peterson it was kind of Independent of everything else going on,’’ Patricia said.
While Lions fans are quite familiar with Peterson, here are the career stats that he has run up — 3,036 rushing attempts for 14,216 yards (4.7 avg.) and 111 touchdowns, ranking eighth in NFL history in attempts, fifth in yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns. The 2012 NFL MVP, Peterson has been named AP All-Pro seven times, has been selected to seven Pro Bowls, was a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team and rushed for an NFL single-game record 296 yards on Nov. 4, 2007.