Officially, running back Adrian Peterson is the backup to running back Mark Ingram in New Orleans. Unofficially, Adrian Peterson is still Adrian Peterson and if he can be Adrian Peterson again, well, we have a feeling as to how it will play out.
For now, Peterson is shying away from the notion that he and Ingram are competing for touches.
“I really think it’s too early to say all that but, right now we’re competing to push each other and to get better,” Peterson told reporters on Wednesday. “When we step on that field and we get our opportunities then we’re able to execute and take advantage of those opportunities.”
Peterson readily admits that he accepted a spot on the team with the express understanding that he’ll have a different role than he’s had in the past. Still, it’s easy to read his words as leaving the door open for something more than a defined niche in the New Orleans offense.
“It’s different,” Peterson said. “I’ve been that guy for 10 years. I came into this situation with open arms. Everything was laid out to me as well and I made a decision to be a part of it. So I’m looking forward to seeing how things work out.”
In other words (possibly), they told him he’ll be a supporting member of the cast, but maybe they’ll change their mind when they see what he can do. For example, he thinks he can catch the ball despite the narrative that he can’t.
“[T]hey didn’t use me that way,” Peterson said of his time with the Vikings. “It’s always funny to me because I’ve been playing this game since I was seven and a lot people say I can’t catch the ball but I’ve been playing this game since I was seven, so I can catch a football. You kind of look back at the two years I played with [Brett] Favre, those were my best years as far as receiving yards. I had like 400 one year and 300-plus the other year. It’s all about having a guy that’s going to get the ball to you and, without a doubt, I know [Drew] Brees will. We’ll be doing that.”
He’s right. In 2009, Peterson had 43 catches for 436 yards. In 2010, he had 36 for 341. And in the first game of his career a decade ago, he supplemented 103 rushing yards with a 60-yard catch and run for a touchdown against the Falcons — and the Vikings knew they had something special.
Peterson possibly hopes the Saints have the same epiphany when the regular season begins in Minnesota, with Peterson returning close to the site of what he will have done 10 years and two days earlier in the Metrodome.