For many players on Washington Football Team's roster, the lack of a typical offseason almost certainly has done more harm than good. Washington has one of the youngest rosters in the NFL, full of players that could benefit from every rep that was lost with no minicamp, OTAs and preseason games.
However, the lack of team-organized football activities over the past four months due to the coronavirus pandemic was not the worst thing for one Washington player: Running back Adrian Peterson.
In a Zoom call with local reporters on Friday, Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan said he believes the extra time off for the veteran will actually "rejuvenate" Peterson for the upcoming season.
"In terms of a guy that is older, this is something I feel like will rejuvenate him and he’ll come back just like he normally does in shape and ready to go," Jordan said.
The running backs coach pointed to the two years of Peterson's career prior to joining Washington in 2018 as to why he feels the extended break could serve 'All Day' well.
In 2016, coming off a career-high in carries, Peterson suffered a torn meniscus, causing him to miss all but three games. In 2017, Peterson signed with the Saints, but only saw a handful of touches before getting traded to Arizona in Week 6. Over that two year span, Peterson had a total of just 193 carries, far less than he had during any singular season prior to that point.
"His longevity, people will not talk about this, is he had a stretch where he did not play a lot of football," Jordan said. "In terms of that, he was able to pretty much get rejuvenated."
Peterson arrived in Washington the following season as a late camp addition. Frankly, Washington only signed the veteran back because then-rookie Derrius Guice suffered a torn ACL during the preseason.
Over the past two seasons, Peterson has been arguably Washington's most productive weapon on offense. In 2018, he immediately emerged as Washington's lead back and topped 1,000 yards for the eighth time in his career. Last year, he still finished with over 850 yards on the ground despite Washington having the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL.
Peterson's resume speaks for itself. He's a future Hall of Famer and arguably the best running back of the 21st century. He already ranks in the top 5 all-time for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns and will almost certainly move up on both those lists before he hangs up the cleats.
However, while the running back may not want to admit it, very few running backs in the past have been productive at his current age. Peterson turned 35 in March. Only two running backs, John Henry Johnson and Washington great John Riggins, have topped the thousand-yard mark at age 35 or older.
Washington doesn't need Peterson to be a 1,000-yard rusher in 2020. Guice is fully healthy. Third-round pick Antonio Gibson has earned nothing but praise since arriving in Washington. Bryce Love has finally recovered from his knee injury in 2018, and the team signed two veterans, J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber, in free agency.
But as Peterson has proved over the past two seasons, the inevitable 'Father Time' can wait a little longer. Jordan has little doubt that the ageless wonder can still produce for Washington this season.
"When God made him, he just said 'hey, you a football player,'" Jordan said. "And gave him all the tools, the physical statue, the speed, the vision, being able to understand angles, a natural runner. Just God-given ability, things you cannot coach."
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