At this point of Adrian Peterson's career, there's really only one number you can question: his age.
The 35-year-old is the greatest running back of his generation and one of the most prolific regardless of era. But because he’s getting up there — even though you can’t really tell by how he’s produced as a Redskin — there will always be murmurs about when Washington will look to move on, until the day they ultimately do.
To some, those murmurs sound louder than ever as Peterson gets set to enter his third year with the Burgundy and Gold, thanks to the team signing JD McKissic and Peyton Barber in free agency and drafting Antonio Gibson in the third round. Bryce Love and Derrius Guice will also be in the fray when football returns.
Does it still feel like Peterson’s spot on the roster is safe? Yes. But with all of those additions at his spot as well a new coaching staff that's in place and ready to launch into a rebuild, nothing is locked in for the future Hall of Famer.
That, in turn, will force him to lock in.
"I’ve always had the mindset of being open to competition,” Peterson told reporters on a Zoom call on Thursday. "That’s what it’s all about, guys pushing each other. I will embrace it the same way. People ask me that question all the time. ‘Redskins, really? They’re packing that running back role.' I’m like, ‘Yeah, they are, but hey, it is what it is.' It is what it is until you’ve got to lace them up and get out there and execute.”
Later on in that same answer, Peterson explained how he’ll continue to act as a mentor for the other running backs, even as they simultaneously fight for snaps and carries.
"I want to see those guys prosper,” he said. “I want to see those guys take their game to the max, to their potential, to reach their full potential. I’m not that guy that’s going to withhold something to get myself an edge. A lot of these guys look up to me.”
That response isn’t an empty one, either. Ever since he joined the Redskins as a preseason pickup in 2018, Peterson’s impacted not just the rest of his position, but the entire locker room as well. Chris Thompson and Derrius Guice, for example, spoke often of how they learned all kinds of things from the legend, yet they are far from the only members of the team to improve thanks to his presence.
Make no mistake, though: Peterson isn’t looking at 2020 as the time to wind down his career and ensure the next wave of talent is prepared to take over. The desire to be the one called upon to convert on the crucial third down or break across the goal line for the 100th-something time is still what drives him the most.
That’s a quality he had in Year 1, and that quality is just as prominent in Year 14.
"I want to be a guy that helps lead us to a championship,” Peterson said. "So, whatever role that is, I’ll be taking part in and I’m going to put my best foot forward. I feel like the things you do during the offseason, with physically getting your body ready and mentally having a grasp of what they’re asking you to do, it will put you in position when the time comes to be one of those guys that can help the team win."
Adrian Peterson has been helping teams win for nearly a decade and a half. Even with whom the Redskins have alongside him and where they are on their path right now, it seems like he'll be back to do so again this fall. And everyone will be better for it.
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