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RB Adrian Peterson upbeat despite Washington Redskins’ offensive line injuries


ASHBURN, Virginia — Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, in the midst of a career rejuvenation, had a natural reaction to his offense’s injury news Monday. The Redskins lost three starters, two of whom helped open holes for some of his 600-plus yards in the first half of the season. It could change the direction of not only the Redskins’ season, but determine his success as well.

“Me and my friend Maker’s Mark, we had a long night,” Peterson said.

But Peterson knows whiskey isn’t the answer to what ails the Redskins. More success from him, however, would be the antidote to their problems. And they say his numbers don’t have to change a whole lot just because of injuries to those blocking for him.

When the Redskins play at Tampa Bay on Sunday, they will be missing three of their original starting offensive linemen — left tackle Trent Williams (dislocated thumb), left guard Shawn Lauvao (torn ACL) and right guard Brandon Scherff (torn left pectoral muscle). And a fourth, right tackle Morgan Moses, did not practice because of a knee injury.

There’s a chance the starting five offensive linemen will include two players who weren’t on the roster until Monday.

“You’ve just got to stay positive and keep pressing,” said Peterson, the NFL’s ninth all-time leading rusher. “It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not the end of the season for us. We all have to perform better. That’s the mindset that I have. … There’s something different when you lose three starters to where your mindset shifts to, ‘I just gotta do more than what I was doing before.'”

That’ll be hard to accomplish. Peterson has rushed for 604 yards, fifth best in the NFL, surpassing what many expected from him after he signed with Washington in mid-August. The Redskins are 5-3 and in first place in the NFC East because of Peterson and their defense. They control the ball on offense and have limited offenses — save for New Orleans and Atlanta.

In the Redskins’ five wins, Peterson has rushed for 561 yards and four touchdowns. Only the Rams’ Todd Gurley and the Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt have rushed for more yards in their teams’ wins; both have eight victories.

Peterson also needs more help to continue climbing career lists: He’s 380 yards from passing Eric Dickerson for eighth in rushing and needs two more rushing touchdowns to pass ex-Redskin John Riggins for sixth on the all-time list.

For the Redskins to keep winning, Peterson must remain a vital part — no matter who’s blocking.

“He just goes through his reads like he normally would,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “It doesn’t matter who’s blocking for him — at guard, center, tackle, tight end, fullback — if we had one — or receiver. He’s just going to go through his progressions and make his cuts and do what he does. It doesn’t matter.”

The Redskins use a lot of different run schemes; Peterson said opponents sometimes express amazement to him after games over the diversity of Washington’s rushing attack. The Redskins use inside and outside zone as well as power gap schemes. They’ll pull the guards; they use jet-sweep action to slow backside pursuit.

They’re hoping that’s one reason Peterson can still succeed.

“A lot of times that helps you because you have the ability to run gap scheme or zone scheme, whatever it may be,” said center Chase Roullier, the only original starter healthy enough to practice Wednesday. “And you can run it based on what the new guys coming in are better at. You can adjust the game plan with that, depending on how that goes. I don’t think there’s going to be any issue plugging those guys in and continuing to win games.”

But Peterson also has discussed how much he has had to learn in this offense, from the style of the run plays to taking handoffs out of pistol or shotgun formation. He has carried a career-high 44 times out of gun formation, averaging 4.16 yards per carry — his best stat out of that look since 2013. Gruden said Peterson’s comfort level on these runs is more about him taking the right path and less about those who are blocking.

“He’s getting more comfortable,” Gruden said. “We still have downhill runs and will get him going on those, too. The big thing with him is being patient with his reads. Obviously we’d rather have Brandon and Trent in there. But [Peterson] is still going to read it out. If reading inside zone, I’m pressing the line and reading one gap at a time … Hopefully he doesn’t have to read a three-technique [defensive lineman] in the backfield.”

The Redskins only had a long walk-through Wednesday, wanting to get through more plays than usual to help the new players acclimate faster. So Peterson couldn’t get any timing down with them, something he said he’ll try to do Thursday and Friday.

“Once we get going to another tempo that I can say little things to them I might see or notice that I’d like them to do differently or might work better,” he said. “Right now it’s just getting to know those guys and talking to them so they feel more comfortable. But most importantly just knowing that they’re going out and playing hard and fast is what we really need right now.”

One change could be less pulling action from the linemen. That’s an area where Scherff excelled, and without him it might become a reduced part of the plan. But just running the same plays doesn’t mean Peterson will have the same success. There have been times he has made his blockers look good; there were other times his blockers put him in a position to do well — and once he gets past the first wave, his jump cuts lead to more yards.

When Peterson arrived in August, he bemoaned the situation he found himself in with Arizona last season — running behind a makeshift line. However, the feeling has always been that Washington’s backups were better than the Cardinals’ starters. That theory will be tested.

“It’s always hard to tell [in practice] because it’s not live action,” Peterson said. “You always say the play looked great in practice when you draw it up and when you run through it in practice. But when you’ve got guys coming 100 miles an hour, things change. We have confidence in the guys we had here before we brought in these guys. The new guys have to step up.”



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Renaissance year has RB legends jealous of Redskins’ Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins Blog


ASHBURN, Va. — At a card show in northern Virginia in August, Adrian Peterson chatted with former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor. Peterson remained unsigned and was a little confused as to why.

“I was telling him, ‘Just be patient, it’ll come. Some good stuff will happen,’” Taylor said.

A few days later, the Washington Redskins called. And a lot of good stuff is happening. In August, there were questions about whether Peterson could still play; now he’s the lead back for a division leader, on pace to rush for more than 1,300 yards. He has 587 rushing yards and four touchdowns in seven games.

If he rushes for 1,000 yards, he’d be the fifth player in history to reach that figure at age 33. A lot of backs are hoping that he does, including the last one to do so — Frank Gore, who topped that total two years ago with Indianapolis.

Taylor rushed for more than 1,000 yards at ages 30 and 31. Tiki Barber rushed for 1,662 yards at age 31 — and then retired. Eric Dickerson didn’t crack 1,000 yards in his 30s, but he’s the one in the Hall of Fame.

All four backs weighed in on Peterson’s renaissance season.


Why do you think Peterson has been able to revive his career in Washington?

Fred Taylor: “A lot of the time it’s timing. It’s the systems. It’s the opportunities. … It’s the type of running scheme he’s used to. I know the long run he had the other day, he had two pullers out in front of him. Go back and look at some old runs in the B, C gap and he wants to stretch it and get downhill and put a little fear in that safety’s heart, where the safety won’t run up on him because he punishes those guys. He’s done a lot, showing power, showing quickness, showing speed. He still has that extra gear. I do want to say he deserves everything that’s happening because he put in the work. He’s been extremely patient.”

Eric Dickerson: “When I think of the Washington Redskins, even going back to the days of when we played — I was a Skins fan myself; my cousin [Dexter Manley] played for Washington, and I wanted to play for the Redskins when I left the Colts. But when I’d think of us, the Rams and the Redskins, it was about [power running]. It’s probably an old way of thinking. But I thought it would be a good fit for him in Washington. He and Chris Thompson, a guy that can come out of the backfield. It’s the perfect fit.

“You have to be in the right situation, you really do. I don’t care how old you are or how young you are. If you don’t have the guys up front, it won’t work. The kid with the Giants, [Saquon] Barkley, he’s a great talent. … But he has no help. With Adrian, if he didn’t have guys on the outside or a quarterback or the line, it would be no different. He’d struggle, whether he was 23 or 33. When you’re in your 30s, you make a big deal of it.”

Tiki Barber: “I think part of it is the chip on his shoulder. There’s a determination inside of him that wants to prove everybody wrong. When I watch him, he looks old. I remember Adrian when we played in the Pro Bowl together. He was young and powerful and could run away from anybody. Yet he’s still very effective despite how he looks. That has to come from the inside.”

What impresses you the most about Peterson?

Frank Gore: “How he pulls away from DBs. I’m happy for him. Just hearing all the time about age — just because you turn a certain number, they don’t know how this man lives in the offseason, how he trains, how much he loves the game. That’s the key. Guys like him, myself, Marshawn [Lynch] are true football players. I can tell A.P. is motivated. He’s here to prove [people] wrong, and he’s doing it. They’re winning, and he’s one of the biggest reasons they’re winning, and that’s big.”

Barber: “Durability. The hardest thing, and I remember at the end of my career, is staying healthy week to week as you get older, not recovering as quickly, so being available every week, save for the one game where he gained only 4 yards. He’s been available, and that’s the biggest asset he’s provided to the Redskins. Your body just doesn’t recover as quickly; the damage is cumulative. I always said being a running back is a function of carries, and once you get a certain number, you don’t recover like you used to.”


Do you think Peterson will gain 1,000 yards, and what would it mean?

Gore: “Oh, yeah! He might go to the Pro Bowl. He might get 1,200-plus if he stays healthy. He should be good on 1,000. That’s the goal for a back, especially doing it at our age — that’s really big. Just knowing that there are only a few guys who turned our age and still doing it. If he gets 1,000, I’m definitely going to be happy for him.”

Dickerson: “Oh, yeah, if he stays healthy. Everything comes down to being healthy. That’s what it’s all about, and also having guys in front of you who are just as dedicated to doing your job as you are. He’ll do his part, but you have to do your part, too. When you’re winning, man, it changes your attitude. You’re leading the division. It’s a good situation for him. He hasn’t had this situation in many years.”

Barber: “I do, mainly because [Redskins coach] Jay Gruden understands the value of the run game and how their offense is working. It would be the perfect cap and not a cap really, but the beginning of the cap to an unbelievable Hall of Fame career. It’s the juxtaposition of how we thought of him at the beginning of the career, where everyone just knew he would be the man and would rush for 1,500 yards and ultimately a 2,000-yard season like it was a foregone conclusion. And flip to a few years later, and everyone says he’s done. I was one of those, ‘No way he has anything left in the tank. Too many carries; he’s been beat up and hurt too many times.’ Yet here he is, proving everyone wrong.”

Taylor: “Without a doubt. It’s just another notch on the belt for the most part, and he wants more than that. He can rack up yards anywhere. He wants to prove to people he can help this team win, and he also wants to prove he belongs in the top three statistically of all time. The 1,000 yards, I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s on the top of his list. He’s happy to be playing football.”

Do you see any difference in Peterson?

Dickerson: “I don’t think he’s as fast as he was five years ago. Of course not. All of us lose speed. But he’s faster than most guys, way faster — and half of the running backs in the NFL, he can outrun. People always look at numbers and age. It’s not about the age, it’s about the situation you’re in and the team you play for. If you don’t have the horses up front, it won’t work. … I’ve been that guy. I’ve been there with no guys in front of me and I know how frustrating it is.”

Barber: “He’s catching the ball, or at least being asked to do it more than he has. And it’s interesting because when he first came in, I’d say this kid wants to be Walter Payton — and I meant it in a good way and a bad way. Walter took on challengers for a smaller back. He put his head down and he ran like he was 240 [pounds] even though he wasn’t. I was like, ‘Man, Adrian is not gonna last. He can’t do that.’ This was in 2005, ’06. Athletes are different, so that’s one thing I noticed: He’s not doing that as often, trying to put his head through someone. He’s gotten smart about taking hits.”


How hard is it to do what Peterson is doing?

Taylor: “It’s hard for a guy whose mindset is mid-tier, but AD has played above the stratosphere his entire career. The ACL slowed him down, and then the year off slowed him down. Otherwise, look at what he’s be doing to the record books. It happens. It’s part of the game, but if he had stayed healthy like Walter [Payton], Emmitt [Smith] and Barry [Sanders], he would be pushing the No. 1 spot where Emmitt is. It’s hard because it requires discipline, it requires focus and you’ve got to stay hungry. That part is hard. But he had a routine his whole career where he worked his ass off, so he makes it look easy. Those young guys don’t understand it when you’re an older guy, you don’t just get excited to play the game. You get excited about things like preparation and game-planning and coming up with schemes and protections. That’s what excites older players. That experience takes over when you lose some of that athletic ability. But he’s a natural. He’s superhuman. That’s what he’s been. I love AD and the fact that he’s proving a lot of people wrong and doing what he’s capable of.”

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter Cameron Wolfe contributed to this story.



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Patrick Peterson hints at long-term commitment to Arizona Cardinals


TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson issued a statement through his Twitter account Wednesday that hinted at his long-term commitment to the team two days after he reportedly requested a trade.

“I’ve been incredibly frustrated with how the season has gone,” Peterson wrote in the post. “But my energy is 100% focused on being part of the solution & helping us turn this around. I’ve never shied away from a challenge before and I’m not starting now. I have always given my all to the Cardinals organization & fans. That is what I intend to do for the years to come. I am an Arizona Cardinal, and my focus is on this weeks game.”

It was Peterson’s first public comments since ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that Peterson “desperately” wants out of Arizona and asked to be traded by the Oct. 30 trade deadline.

The Cardinals are 1-6.

Peterson met with Cardinals president Michael Bidwill for 30 minutes on Tuesday, and they discussed ways for the Cardinals to improve and for Peterson to be a leader, sources told Schefter.

Peterson received assurances from Bidwill about winning, sources said.

Later Monday, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said the team won’t deal Peterson.

‘We’re not trading Patrick,” Wilks said. “That’s out of the question.”

Wilks said Monday that he was planning on talking with Peterson later that day. The Cardinals were off Tuesday and return to practice later Wednesday, when Wilks will address the media.

Peterson, who signed a five-year extension worth $70 million in 2014, has two years left on his deal. The fifth overall pick in 2011, Peterson is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All Pro.





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Patrick Peterson, and other trades that make sense for the Eagles – Philadelphia Eagles Blog


PHILADELPHIA — In Philly, the time of year when trade winds blow is known as Howie season.

Howie Roseman, the Eagles‘ executive vice president of football operations, has rightfully earned the reputation as one of the most aggressive personnel men in football. Since Roseman first stepped into power in 2010, the Eagles have executed 70 player trades outside of the draft, the most in the NFL. The New England Patriots are second with 58.

Recent history suggests he could strike between now and the Oct. 30 trade deadline. He made a splash this time last year by acquiring running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins for a fourth-round pick, a move that helped the Eagles capture their first Lombardi Trophy.

Their bid for a repeat is off to a rocky start. Injuries have bit them in several areas. Ajayi (ACL) and speed receiver Mike Wallace (broken leg) are on injured reserve, as is safety Rodney McLeod (MCL). Darren Sproles (hamstring) hasn’t been on the field since Week 1. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan is still recovering from offseason surgery to repair a herniated disk, and fellow interior lineman Haloti Ngata (calf) also is ailing.

The four primary areas of focus for Roseman and the 3-4 Eagles heading into the deadline are defensive secondary, defensive tackle, wide receiver and running back.

Let’s look at a few player acquisitions that would make sense:

Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

Peterson has asked Arizona to deal him by the trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter. According to Peterson’s cousin, former Steeler and current analyst Bryant McFadden, the Eagles, Patriots and New Orleans Saints have all expressed interest, with the “ideal destination” being the Saints.

Peterson, 28, is a special talent. The Eagles are not afraid to pounce when they identify a market anomaly, and this appears to be one, with an elite player at a highly coveted position becoming available while still in his prime. The Eagles have had a difficult time shutting down passing attacks at critical times and rank near the bottom of the league in takeaways (6). Peterson could cure a lot of ills. The cap-strapped Eagles would have to find a way to make it work financially — Peterson has a base salary of $11 million both this year and next year — but he’s the type of player they would maneuver for.

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas

The Broncos have been listening to offers for the 30-year-old Thomas, according to Schefter. Thomas’ teammate Emmanuel Sanders would actually be a more ideal fit. The Eagles like having a speed receiver who can take the top off defenses working opposite Alshon Jeffery, and have been sorely missing that since Wallace went down in Week 2. Denver is apparently reluctant to move Sanders, though.

Thomas (33 receptions, 372 yards, 3 TDs) would be a clear upgrade over what the Eagles have now and would give Carson Wentz another reliable target other than Jeffery and tight end Zach Ertz, who have been carrying a disproportionate amount of the load.

It’s worth noting that Terrelle Pryor (groin) was recently released by the New York Jets and said he is getting close to 100 percent. He could be a solid, relatively inexpensive option for teams that missed out on Amari Cooper. The Eagles reportedly offered a second-round pick for Cooper but the Dallas Cowboys outbid them by giving up a first-rounder.

Dolphins WR DeVante Parker

Parker’s agent went on the offensive this week, calling Miami coach Adam Gase “incompetent” while saying his client is “totally healthy” despite being inactive against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The writing appeared to be on the wall, though recent injuries to Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson complicate matters.

Parker, a former first-round pick out of Louisville, has intriguing size (6-foot-3, 216 pounds) and speed (4.45 40-yard dash coming out of college). His best season came in 2016 when he caught 56 balls for 744 yards and four touchdowns. Roseman has a strong relationship as well as a trade history with Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ executive VP of football operations.

Lions RB LeGarrette Blount

The Eagles entered Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers feeling bullish about their running back group, which is currently being led by Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement. It’s possible their perspective shifted some after the ground game was limited to 2.4 yards per carry versus the Panthers. They’re hoping that Sproles returns in the near future.

While Le’Veon Bell or LeSean McCoy would provide the bigger impact, the asking price might be too much. Blount was the lead back for the Super Bowl champion Eagles last season and fit well into the locker room. Perhaps either he or Lions teammate Ameer Abdullah could be spared, given the emergence of Kerryon Johnson.





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Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson won’t miss time with shoulder injury


An MRI backed up running back Adrian Peterson’s confidence that he wouldn’t miss any time for the Washington Redskins with a shoulder injury, a source said Tuesday night.

Peterson was injured late in the first half of Monday night’s 43-19 loss at the New Orleans Saints, leaving him on the bench for all but two offensive snaps in the second half. But the MRI showed no further damage.

He is expected to play when the Redskins host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Peterson twice said after Monday’s contest that he had dislocated his shoulder at the end of a catch-and-run, telling reporters he had popped it back into place. Washington coach Jay Gruden had called it a strained shoulder.

Peterson carried four times for six yards and caught two passes for 36 yards in Monday’s defeat. For the season, he has 242 yards rushing on 60 carries.



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Adrian Peterson of Washington Redskins set for MRI after injuring shoulder


Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said he injured his shoulder near the end of the first half of Monday night’s 43-19 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

He will undergo an MRI Tuesday morning.

After the game, Redskins coach Jay Gruden called the injury a strain, but Peterson twice called it a dislocation.



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Adrian Peterson of Washington Redskins wants to play ‘three to four more years’


ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson heard the doubts about what he could still do at 33 years old. He has another message for any skeptics: He’s not close to the end.

Peterson, who rushed for 96 yards in the Redskins’ opening win over the Arizona Cardinals, said he was not ready to retire any time soon.

“Three to four more years would be ideal,” Peterson said. “Not to say it hasn’t been done before, but not at a high level. So of course I plan on playing three to four more years, and I plan on playing those years at a high level as well.”

Peterson moved into 10th place on the all-time rushing list Sunday, surpassing Jim Brown, and now has 12,372 yards, along with 100 rushing touchdowns. He trails Tony Dorsett by 367 yards for ninth place, and he needs 5,984 yards to surpass Emmitt Smith as the all-time leading rusher.

That would be the ultimate accomplishment for Peterson, along with winning a Super Bowl title.

“The best player ever to play is my mindset,” Peterson said. “Being able to sit back and say I had a great time playing the game I love and I won a world championship and I was the best at my position.”

Of the nine modern era running backs in the Hall of Fame, three made it to age 35: Smith (35), John Riggins (36) and Marcus Allen (37). Riggins — the only one to top 1,000 yards in a season — rushed for a combined 2,586 yards for the Redskins at ages 34-35.

In the past two years, thanks largely to injuries, Peterson has rushed for a combined 601 yards. He was traded by New Orleans to Arizona in 2017 — his season was shortened by a neck injury — and then remained unsigned until Washington called in mid-August.

That hasn’t stopped Peterson from saying he could still be the best running back in the NFL.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Being out two years, but coming off the injury in Minnesota and the injury last year, of course there’s a lot that I have to prove in order to be able to show that. Inside, I know that I feel I am. It’s just about doing it for a full season.”

Peterson said he’ll know when to eventually retire.

“If my body starts acting up or I’m not feeling like I still have the burst, or the power, then my body will tell me that,” Peterson said. “I’ll recognize it for what it is and go from there. But I haven’t experienced that yet.”

Nor has he lost any motivation.

“I’m not going to lie, I definitely enjoyed not being in training camp,” Peterson said. “But yeah, I think that’s the No. 1 factor. You must have that motivation; you must have that passion, that love for the game.

“Brett Favre was a perfect example coming into Minnesota that 2009 year, and man, ‘Oh he’s this, that, and the other,’ but that guy, he played with so much passion. He was the last one to leave the building, the first one there, and the way that he practiced pretty much set the tempo. He was full speed ahead every play.”



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Fantasy fallout: Are Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris really back? – NFL Nation


Two weeks ago, Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris didn’t have jobs. This past weekend, they combined for 28 carries and 140 yards.

Welcome back to the NFL, fellas.

But should one still have a place on your fantasy roster?

Peterson clearly looks like the safer bet to play a significant role. Obviously, you could be skeptical about the 33-year-old, who has now been with three teams in less than a year. But as ESPN Washington Redskins reporter John Keim said after Peterson showed up last week and instantly gained 56 yards on 11 carries: “He looked better than the other Redskins’ [first- and second-down] backs, and that’s all that matters right now.”

“After watching Peterson in his preseason debut, it’s hard to imagine the Redskins starting anyone else,” said Keim, who projects that could mean about 15 carries a game or more. “The question will be how long he holds up under that sort of usage, but in the short term, he could be OK.”

Peterson was on injured reserve with a minor neck injury last December. But for the most part, he has been a physical marvel throughout his 11-year career, so workload shouldn’t be a big concern. Remember, he had four games with 20-plus carries after he was traded from the New Orleans Saints to the Arizona Cardinals last season (including 26 carries for 134 yards in his debut and a whopping 37 carries for 159 yards three weeks later).

The bigger concern with Peterson is that he has averaged just 3.1 yards per carry over the past two years — the third lowest total among backs with at least 150 rushes. But Peterson pointed out that the Redskins’ offensive line will be better than the ones he played with in Arizona and with the 2016 Minnesota Vikings.

Morris, meanwhile, won’t be a leading man in San Francisco, where the 49ers spent big money on runner/receiver Jerick McKinnon in free agency. But the question is whether Morris can supplant promising second-year pro Matt Breida and get some base-down/goal-line work as the No. 2.

Morris ran the ball 17 times for 84 yards Saturday while McKinnon, Breida and backup Joe Williams were all sidelined by injuries. Plus, he had a 17-yard run that was called back because of an illegal formation penalty.

“Honestly, it’s too early to say whether Morris will play much of a role. He’s done enough to win a roster spot, and they like the idea of having him as insurance early in the season when Breida and McKinnon are coming back from injury,” ESPN 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner said. “But I don’t think there’s any evidence to indicate he’s going to take reps from McKinnon or Breida yet, assuming they’re healthy for Week 1.”

Cook, Luck pass final tests

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook passed the final milestone he was looking forward to in his recovery from a torn ACL on Friday — getting tackled.

“It felt good, too,” Cook said. “My adrenaline was rushing. I was ready.”

ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin said coaches haven’t really shed light on how much they’ll divide the workload between Cook and veteran backup Latavius Murray. But it’s possible Cook’s touches could gradually increase as the season starts up, according to Cronin. So the first few weeks might not be the best indicator of his long-term impact.

Cronin also said it’s possible Murray could be used a lot inside the 5-yard line — which is a strength of his — to help alleviate some of the stress on Cook. But on a positive note for Cook’s workload, she expects to see both Cook and Murray used as receivers in new coordinator John DeFilippo’s creative offense — sometimes both on the field at the same time, with one in the backfield and one in the slot.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck took another positive step in his recovery from the shoulder injury that wiped out his 2017 season, throwing his first preseason touchdown pass on Saturday.

Luck refused to give himself a letter grade for his preseason performance. But more importantly, he said with a laugh that if he was grading “pass or fail,” he passed.

Luck suffered a “minor” foot injury in practice, but he’s expected to be fine for Week 1.

Breakout Bucs?

Chris Godwin‘s impressive summer continued when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver leaped up high for a 10-yard touchdown catch against Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay on Friday. ESPN Bucs reporter Jenna Laine said the second-year pro “looks poised for a big year.” And she wrote that the coaching staff views him as a starter during a breakdown of the Bucs’ WR depth chart.

Laine also wrote about how the Buccaneers are hoping to see some more “jaw-dropping plays” from second-year tight end O.J. Howard on a consistent basis. Although it might be hard for Howard to become a reliable fantasy factor because of the presence of veteran Cameron Brate, Laine wrote that Howard and Tampa Bay’s coaching staff feel he is ready to meet or exceed the lofty expectations that surrounded him as a 2017 first-round draft choice.

Last but not least, Tampa’s third-year running back Peyton Barber tightened his already-strong grip on the starting job ahead of rookie Ronald Jones II this summer. Barber had five carries for 34 yards and a touchdown Friday, and Jones ran six times for 7 yards. However, Jones did make a splash with a 37-yard reception — and the Buccaneers will no doubt try to work him into the mix as the season goes along. Laine said Barber has been the Bucs’ “go-to guy in the red zone.” But she stressed the coaching staff doesn’t believe in using just one running back.

Replacing Lee in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Jaguars‘ WR corps didn’t get any more predictable in the wake of Marqise Lee‘s season-ending knee injury. But Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook should all become more important now.

ESPN Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco wrote that even though the team has said the onus will be on the entire group of receivers to replace Lee, Moncrief is the one who really needs to deliver as the most experienced (and expensive) member of the group. Cole has been the most popular sleeper among fantasy analysts. But DiRocco said there’s a chance Westbrook could be the one with the most upside, since he was already going to have a bigger role this season.

Quick hits

    • Seahawks: Rookie first-round draft pick Rashaad Penny is expected to return from his broken finger in time for Week 1. But ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson wrote a great post explaining why Penny hasn’t been able to wrestle the starting job away from Chris Carson. One source described Carson’s response to the Seahawks drafting Penny as, “You think you’re taking my f—ing job?” Henderson said it’s hard to predict how the timeshare will go because of so many unknowns (new coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer, Penny being injured this summer and Carson’s own injury history). But as long as Carson is playing at this level, he could see a 65-35 split in carries favoring Carson.

  • Packers: ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky wrote that fantasy fanatics who have been scared off by Green Bay’s running back committee might have to reorder their draft boards after coach Mike McCarthy’s strong endorsement of Jamaal Williams. “He’s really poised to have a big year,” McCarthy said. “Clearly, without playing a game yet, I think we’ll be talking about him at the end of the season as a second-year player that’s made the jump.” Demovsky has maintained all summer that Aaron Jones has the potential to emerge as the most dynamic runner in the backfield later in the season — if he proves he can stay healthy once he returns from a two-game suspension. But for now, anyway, Williams has taken the leading-man role and run with it.

  • Broncos: Rookie running back Royce Freeman continued his impressive summer with a 24-yard touchdown run Friday. ESPN Denver Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold gave Freeman a strong endorsement in this column two weeks ago, saying, “He’s just too big, too fast not to play, and he runs with vision.” Legwold wrote this week that to earn more playing time, though, Freeman needs to keep proving he knows what to do without the ball in his hands.

  • Saints: Sean Payton said the Saints’ WR depth chart is still “written in chalk” behind Michael Thomas. As ESPN’s Saints reporter, I broke down the prospects of newcomer Cameron Meredith (off to a slow start), rookie Tre’Quan Smith (off to an exciting start but still developing) and incumbents Ted Ginn Jr. and Austin Carr. It’s possible none of them emerges as a true No. 2 receiver. Ginn is the steadiest choice late in fantasy drafts, but Meredith and Smith have more breakout potential.

  • Chiefs: Sammy Watkins had his most productive week of practice yet with the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Then he followed up with his first catch of the preseason for 15 yards on Saturday. But he remains a bit of a fantasy risk, according to ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher, who wrote the Chiefs are still waiting for Watkins to earn his keep. Of course the potential remains high, as always, with Watkins — and Kansas City will remain patient after signing him to a three-year, $48 million contract.

  • Bengals: It’s a similar story with second-year Cincinnati Bengals receiver John Ross, who flashed his “wow” potential with a 57-yard TD catch. Ross flashed both his speed and his elusive feet while making a pair of defenders miss at the end of the play. However, Ross has continued to show inconsistency, too — including a drop on the next pass thrown his way. And ESPN Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell said he is still working to earn the team’s trust. Terrell actually thinks slot receiver Tyler Boyd could wind up having more value in PPR leagues, since he’ll be used more.

  • Raiders: ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez doesn’t expect any mind-numbing stats from new receiver Jordy Nelson, since Oakland’s passing offense will revolve so much around Amari Cooper. But Gutierrez does think Nelson will help to fill the void left by Michael Crabtree as a “security blanket” for QB Derek Carr. And Nelson has already been making an impact as a veteran leader.

  • Colts: Indy’s running back situation isn’t as set as its QB situation. ESPN Colts reporter Mike Wells said he would be concerned about Marlon Mack‘s fantasy prospects, especially since Mack might not be ready to play in Week 1 because of a hamstring injury. That could leave rookie Jordan Wilkins as the Week 1 starter — and make for an unpredictable pecking order as the season goes on.



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Adrian Peterson stands out in Washington Redskins debut


LANDOVER, Md. — On a first-quarter run up the middle, running back Adrian Peterson spotted Denver Broncos linebacker Todd Davis in the hole. So Peterson did what he once did so often: He turned trouble into a long gain. Peterson used a jump cut to bounce outside, then cut once more for a 13-yard gain.

In an otherwise bad half for the Washington Redskins, their new running back — trying to revive his career at age 33 — stood out.

Peterson finished with 11 carries for 56 yards, showing Washington a lot of what it wanted to see. He displayed some explosion and showed an ability to carry the ball on consecutive drives. He even converted a fourth-and-inches down with a 15-yard dash around the left end, getting a key block from someone even older — 34-year old Vernon Davis.

Peterson also might have shown that he’s the best first- and second-down running back on the roster.

The Redskins signed Peterson on Monday, wanting to see if he could unseat either Rob Kelley or Samaje Perine for the starting job. It’s not as if the rest of the offense was humming. Rather, the Redskins’ passing game struggled as starting quarterback Alex Smith completed just 3 of 8 passes for 33 yards.

Instead, the first half was about seeing what Peterson could do. The Redskins wanted to see his explosion, how he handled consecutive carries and his vision.

He started the game in the I formation, gaining 7 yards running up the middle. But that series ended in a three-and-out, so it wasn’t until the Redskins’ next drive that Peterson showed more.

It wasn’t always big gains. He gained nothing on his first carry before a 13-yarder. However, that was followed by consecutive gains of 1 yard. On that drive, Peterson carried the ball seven straight times for a total of 28 yards. There was one flashy run and six workmanlike carries.

Peterson saved one of his best runs for last. The Redskins went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 40-yard line. Peterson, running to his left, was going to try to slam the ball just outside the left tackle, but a defender closed that gap, so Peterson bounced wide left where Davis was blocking his man.

Peterson did not play another snap, but he had made his point.



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At 33, Adrian Peterson testing history once more with Redskins – Washington Redskins Blog


ASHBURN, Virginia — Adrian Peterson tested history earlier in his career, tearing his ACL in 2011 only to rush for more than 2,000 yards the following season. He’s testing it again, trying to prove he can still be an effective every-down back at age 33.

The Redskins signed Peterson on Monday and haven’t guaranteed him a roster spot, let alone the starting job. But they raved about his workout and teammates said he looked sharp in practice. What that means for Week 3, if he’s on the roster, is anyone’s guess.

Of the nine modern-era Hall of Fame running backs who played until they were 33 or older, four rushed for at least 703 yards – and one for 1,000. Some were effective for a few more years; others were not. Peterson might be in better shape than all of them; he’s also had two serious leg injuries.

The average for these backs at age 33: 11.2 games, 146.2 carries, 574 yards and 4.8 touchdowns.

Here’s a look at how they fared at 33 and beyond:

Emmitt Smith (retired at 35): Smith’s last 1,000-yard season occurred at age 32 when he averaged 3.9 yards per carry for Dallas. But in his final two seasons, with Arizona, he averaged 2.8 and 3.5 yards, respectively, and gained a combined 1,193 yards. He did rush for nine touchdowns in his last season.

Walter Payton (33): At 32, he still rushed for 1,333 yards (and finished with 1,715 yards from scrimmage). Like Peterson, he was a workout freak. But he also was more durable in his career, having not missed a game from his second year until he retired. In his final season, Payton split time with Neal Anderson and rushed for 533 yards while catching 33 passes for 217 yards.

Jerome Bettis (33): At 32, he rushed for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 3.8 yards per carry — his career average was 3.9. But at 33, Bettis managed 368 yards rushing during the regular season, with 9.2 carries per game. In the postseason, he helped the Steelers win a Super Bowl and averaged 14 carries per game. His yards-per-carry wasn’t great: 3.2 in the regular season; 3.3 in the playoffs. But he was effective closing out games. He retired after the season.

Eric Dickerson (33): He made his name first with the Los Angeles Rams and then, after a trade, with the Indianapolis Colts. But he spent his last two seasons with the Raiders and then Atlanta. There were glimpses of the old Dickerson, twice rushing for more than 100 yards with the Raiders. He split time with Marcus Allen and led the team with 729 yards rushing. But they traded him to the Falcons after the season. After four games and 91 yards in a backup role, they traded him to Green Bay. Dickerson failed a physical and retired.

Tony Dorsett (34): He rushed for 1,307 yards at age 31, but never topped 748 in his final three seasons. The Cowboys traded him to Denver for his final year, where he rushed for 703 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. There were reports of him running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds before his final camp. And Broncos coach Dan Reeves, who once coached him in Dallas, said, “I haven’t been with him for seven years, but I don’t see any loss of quickness or speed. He seems to have all those things he had when he came into the league.”

Marcus Allen (37): Allen only surpassed 1,000 yards rushing three times in his career, the last coming when he was 25. But he was a versatile back, thanks to his pass-catching and blocking ability. At age 32, he only rushed for 301 yards in his final year with the Los Angeles Raiders. But at 33 he won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award the next season with Kansas City. He led the Chiefs in rushing the next four seasons, though never topping 890. He did average 4.0 yards per carry. He also caught 141 passes with the Chiefs. At age 37, in his fifth season with Kansas City, he rushed for 505 yards.

Franco Harris (34): In his final season with Pittsburgh, Harris rushed for 1,007 yards on 3.6 yards per carry and five touchdowns. But in the ensuing camp, Harris held out for more money, and the Steelers eventually cut him. He signed with Seattle, only 363 yards from becoming the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Harris flopped in eight games with the Seahawks, managing 170 yards and 2.5 yards per run. He was cut and never played again.

Thurman Thomas (34): He rushed for 1,033 yards at age 30 before starting a steady decline. He gained 1,176 yards rushing in the ensuing three years combined with Buffalo, before the Bills cut him at age 33. He signed with Miami and in nine games rushed for 136 yards before a knee injury ended his season — and career.

John Riggins (36): It’s hard to imagine Riggins was in the same sort of shape as Peterson is at 33. But Riggins was the power behind Washington’s offense. At 33, Riggins averaged only 3.1 yards per carry in the strike-shortened season, but he topped 100 yards in each of the four playoff games and his 43-yard run clinched the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship. He rushed for a combined 2,586 yards in his next two seasons. At age 36, in 12 games, he rushed for 677 yards but was replaced by George Rogers as the starter down the stretch. Riggins retired after the season. Riggins once said, “I got good when I got old, which is kind of foreign for a running back to do. That isn’t the way it usually works. But I changed my style quite a bit because of the way the Redskins played the game. We’d run plays when there were arms and legs and things hanging, dangling in the hole, and you’d go ahead and run through that stuff.”



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