It’s never wise to doubt Adrian Peterson, but it’s fair to ask whether and to what extent any 33-year-old tailback still has any gas left in the tank.
He once seemed to be destined to make a run at the all-time rushing record, but largely lost seasons in 2014 and 2016 have kept him stuck at No. 12 on the list, more than 6,000 yards behind Emmitt Smith. (Peterson is still less than 50 yards from the top 10.) Last year, Peterson generated 529 yards during stints with the Saints and Cardinals, including back-to-the-future games of 134 and 159 yards for Arizona before injury shut him down for the rest of the season.
On the other hand, Peterson averaged 3.4 yards per carry in 2017, a career low for any season in which he played more than three games and a far cry from the 6.0-yard average from his league MVP season of 2012.
Apart from the question of what he has left is what Washington thinks he has left. And much of that will be revealed by the terms of his contract, specifically whether and to what extent Peterson’s salary is guaranteed before it becomes as a practical matter guaranteed if he’s on the Week One roster.
Which means there’s a chance that Peterson will have a short stint with Washington, if his contract is largely non-guaranteed and if the team doesn’t see enough between now and Week One in either practice or preseason games to believe that he should occupy a spot high enough on the depth chart so that he won’t be playing special teams.
Regardless, it’s still not wise to doubt Peterson, who has proven time and again that he can do his best work when observers are predicting the worst.