Washington released veteran running back Adrian Peterson on Friday morning in a move that will cause serious surprise for many team fans.
The truth is the emergence of rookie running back Antonio Gibson made all of this possible.
New offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system relies heavily on pass-catching backs and motion out of the backfield. As training camp dragged into late August, it became clear that Gibson and J.D. McKissic will get a ton of work with the first-team offense, and that perhaps Peterson's workload would diminish.
Washington Football head coach Ron Rivera also talked up Peyton Barber throughout camp, a 26-year-old downhill runner that can provide much of the same thump as Peterson.
Still, this move is a major surprise.
Peterson had been hailed for his practice habits and veteran leadership, frequently and recently. In the last two seasons Peterson averaged 4.25 yards-per-carry, almost a full yard more than Barber's 3.4 YPC during the same period.
Rivera will speak Friday and explain the decision, but the guess is the new head coach wanted to get younger at the position. Peterson is 35, and before Washington signed him in mid-August 2018, he was a free agent.
The team obviously believes Gibson can do it all, and some of that has been apparent in camp.
"I’m actually loving it," the rookie runner said last week. "This is probably the first time I’m not being limited to just doing a certain thing."
Gibson played receiver in college but was a runner before making that switch. Turner's creativity is built for a player like that, and now the rookie will get that much more opportunity.