The smile almost fully flashed across his face, but Adrian Peterson stifled it. That didn’t stop him from robustly nodding his head before the question was completed, though.
The Thursday inquiry from a reporter was meant to gauge Peterson’s mood and whether he’s feeling rejuvenated by interim coach Bill Callahan’s intention to commit more to the Redskins’ rushing attack. It was basically like asking an office worker if they like the idea of getting more vacation days.
“I’m hyped about it,” Peterson said. “You look at the first four weeks that I played: 11, 12, 10, seven carries. Totally opposite from what we did last year when we were able to be more successful as a team.”
He may have gotten the order wrong, but Peterson’s memory of how many attempts he’s received each time out thus far is right on. That’s not luck or random; instead, it’s a hint into the frustration the future Hall of Famer feels regarding his role in 2019, as he’s made a point to keep a precise tally of how many times (or how few, in his mind) he’s getting the ball.
Skeptics can look at No. 26’s production, however, and not blame the recently fired Jay Gruden for not sticking with Peterson. Overall, the 34-year-old is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. His best single game total is a meager 37 yards.
Yet Peterson and Callahan have both made clear they believe the struggles on the ground stem from not leaning on it enough. In fact, Peterson mentioned how there would be times under Gruden where he would feel like he was about to hit his stride, but then a handful of snaps would happen that didn’t involve him.
Well, fortunately for Peterson, it sounds like Callahan will not forget about the veteran starting this Sunday in Miami. To put it simply, the running back better make sure his legs are nice and stretched and ready to go.
“We just haven’t gotten enough into a rhythm to allow him to get lathered up and to really see what he can potentially do for the duration of a game,” Callahan, who earlier this week said rushing attempts is the statistic he values the most, told reporters on Thursday.
Again, those questioning whether this grind-it-out attitude is best for Washington very well may have a point. To some, it’s outdated, and to others, it’s not worth investing more in because Peterson and a Trent Williams-less offensive line have done nothing to inspire hope that a breakthrough is near.
Regardless of whether it’s the correct thing to emphasize, the truth is it certainly appears like it’s going to be emphasized. And it very well could work against a pathetic Dolphins defense that is last in the league when it comes to limiting opposing RBs.
The mystery is whether it will pay off when facing more talented and stronger units, of which there are plenty on the Redskins’ remaining schedule beyond Week 6. What isn’t a mystery, on the other hand, is how Peterson is taking the coaching change and new approach.
“I know I’ve noticed, and its been felt across the locker room, the tempo, the urgency in practice has changed,” Peterson said. “It reminds me of Minnesota or when I was out in New Orleans... This has been the best week of practice since I’ve been here.”
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