Just four days removed from being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career, Adrian Peterson will be the Redskins starting running back on Sunday. Head coach Jay Gruden confirmed such to the media on Wednesday.
The decision by Gruden, of course, was imaginably a lot easier than the one he made on Sunday: determining whether to have Peterson suit up or not. With Derrius Guice sidelined for the near future with a meniscus injury, the 13-year veteran slides right back into the role where he earned the Redskins Offensive Player of the Year award a season ago.
Despite admitting that the decision to be inactive was "extremely hard" for Peterson to deal with, he insists that he has no ill will towards Gruden or the rest of the coaching staff.
"It's water under the bridge," Peterson told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay in an exclusive interview. "The situation is what it is. The only thing I can do now is make the best of it and help the team win games."
Peterson was naturally upset with the decision to be benched. Anyone with a résumé full of as many accomplishments as Peterson has would react the same way. He wasn't the only one. Earlier this week, Morgan Moses came to his defense, calling it a "slap in the face" to bench a Hall of Fame running back.
While Peterson was appreciative of his teammate's support, the former All-Pro did not want the decision to affect anyone but himself.
"I didn't want the way I was feeling to affect the team or the running back room," Peterson said. "I just had to bite down and lock in. It was Guice's first game back in a year, coming off an ACL injury. Energy is everything. I wanted to make sure I had that positive energy, that I was upbeat, that I wasn't moping or anything like that. That's just the approach that I took."
That same positive energy translated to the sideline during the Burgundy and Gold's Week 1 clash vs. Philadelphia. Rather than sulking, the 13-year veteran used his intellect and experience to help both Guice and Chris Thompson during the game.
"When I'm on the sideline and watching, I'm seeing different things that I would have done compared to Guice or [Chris Thompson]," he said. "So I'm explaining to them once they come to the sidelines what I've seen. We all see different things."
Unfortunately for Washington, the rushing attack was rather nonexistent against Philadelphia. Guice finished with just 18 yards on 10 carries. Thompson added just 10 more yards on the ground.
The Redskins aren't going to win many games with less than 30 rushing yards. In fact, no team in the NFL will.
"The second half [vs. Philadelphia] was rough, we [weren't] able to run the ball," Peterson said. "When I get out there, I'll just use my god-given abilities to help try and improve the run game for sure."
While Peterson did mention that the numbers from Philadelphia may look worse than the reality due to a couple of penalties negating big gains, the Redskins offense simply could not establish a rhythm on the ground in Week 1. Peterson is looking to change that against Dallas.
Peterson is originally from Texas and admitted that he grew up a Cowboys fan. He's locked in and ready to go.
"I'm pumped up, man. I'm really excited about the opportunity to play again," he said. "I get to play against the team I grew up loving. So it's just a blessing."
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