One question hanging over the Big Easy as we barrel toward training camp is how the running back rotation will sort out.
Since the New Orleans Saints signed Adrian Peterson and drafted Alvin Kamara to a backfield that already included Pro Bowler Mark Ingram, everyone has said the right things about sharing the rock and playing their role.
Peterson has consistently insisted he didn’t join the Saints expecting the sort of load he earned for years in Minnesota.
“I don’t need all those carries to be my best,” Peterson told Dan Pompei of the Bleacher Report. “I don’t think I became a great player by having to have 20 or 30 carries to get 200 yards. If they feed it to me, hey, I’m going to eat. Whenever I get opportunities, I’ll take advantage of them.”
Given Peterson’s history of overcoming obstacles, few should doubt All Day’s ability to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2016.
Pompei spoke to Peterson’s trainer, James Cooper, who believes the 32-year-old can still be one of the best in the NFL.
“There are the NFL players, there are the NFL starters, and then there is the upper-echelon one percent,” Cooper said. “He is still going to be in that upper one percent.”
Several other running backs also work out in the Houston gym owned by Peterson: Melvin Gordon, Ty Montgomery and Joe Mixon. Cooper noted to Pompei that Peterson is either better than or just as good as each younger back in speed, cutting ability and getting in out of breaks.
Despite a litany of injuries and Peterson creeping toward the age most running backs fall off a cliff, Saints coach Sean Payton is confident AD has several more prime seasons left.
“There are some things I’ve seen him do that are rare,” Payton said. “Regardless of how talented anyone is, at some point it fades or diminishes. I don’t think it’s happened for him yet. I really don’t. And that’s exciting. I think he’s physically capable of giving us a very, very high, elite-level performance. I feel that way. It’s a little different with this player than the norm with age.”
Questions linger over Peterson as he heads toward the first training camp of his career not wearing purple. It’s natural to wonder what an over-30 running back with more than 2,400 carries coming off injuries has left. It’s logical to ponder the merits of that tailback joining a new offense led by a Hall of Fame quarterback who makes throwing for 5,000 yards seem routine.
“Yes, the doubt motivates me,” Peterson said. “I’d be lying to say it doesn’t. You want to do things people say you can’t do.”
A motivated Peterson is the best Peterson New Orleans could hope for in 2017.