The decision to release legendary running back Adrian Peterson one day before final roster cuts in September was Washington head coach Ron Rivera's first major stamp on his team's roster.
Peterson, who had been in Washington since 2018 and been productive, figured to be a roster lock. He was heavily used throughout the beginning of training camp. Only did his reps dip in favor of Antonio Gibson towards the end. So, it was plenty surprising when Rivera chose to release him outright.
Now 10 weeks later, Peterson faces his former club as a member of the Detroit Lions. While the running back has said multiple times how grateful he is for his time in Washington, Peterson did admit Monday that he'll be a little more amped up for this game than usual.
“Of course there’s a little chip there," Peterson said, via WUSA9's Darren Haynes. “Of course, you get to realize what you let go. I would be lying to you to say that chip isn’t there.”
During a media session with reporters on Wednesday, Rivera was asked if he was looking forward to facing Peterson.
"I'm never excited about playing against a future Hall of Famer, that's for doggone sure," Rivera said.
Since arriving in Detroit, Peterson has split time with rookie D'Andre Swift as the team's lead running back. The 35-year-old has 93 carries for 350 yards on the ground, an average of 3.8 yards-per-attempt, to go along with two rushing touchdowns. Peterson also has added 10 catches for 69 receiving yards, too.
A major reason Rivera chose to cut Peterson was to give Gibson, the team's third-round draft choice, more chances to see the field. Gibson had primarily played wideout in college, but had impressed at his new position enough during camp for the staff to feel confident in his abilities moving forward.
The decision seems to have paid off for Washington. Gibson has nearly the same number of carries (90) as Peterson (93), yet has more rushing yards (393 to 350) and touchdowns (five to two) than the veteran.
Besides Gibson, Washington has gotten plenty of production out of the backfield from J.D. McKissic, who is second on the team in catches with 34. Outside of wide receiver Terry McLaurin, Gibson and McKissic have been Washington's best two weapons on offense.
So, while the decision to cut Peterson might have given the future Hall of Famer a chip on his shoulder, the divorce seemed to have paid off for both sides.
And as Peterson mentioned earlier this week, he has no love lost for the Burgundy and Gold.
"It was a great journey and great opportunity. They allowed me to show that I can still play this game at a high level," Peterson said. "I will always have love for the DMV area. It was critical for my career. It's a reason why I'm still playing in this league now at a high level."