No one with the Lions knows as well as Darrell Bevell what Adrian Peterson is capable of.
But until they get through their first full practice today with the veteran running back, they won’t be sure exactly how he’ll be used.
Bevell, now the Lions offensive coordinator, had the same job in Minnesota from 2007-2010. During those four seasons, Peterson led the league in rushing yards (5,782) and touchdowns (52), making All-Pro each year.
“Um, I don’t know yet,” Bevell said, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. “We haven’t even had him on the field. We’ve had one walk-through I think since he’s been here.
“The guy really is a freak of nature in terms of his athletic ability and the way he’s built and what his body can handle. I think he’s already proved that even last year, rushing for almost 1,000 yards last year. I’m not sure that we’re setting those expectations just yet.”
Running for 1,940 yards and 13 touchdowns the last two seasons for substandard Washington teams was impressive at any age, much less for a guy who’s now 35. And while Bevell’s background with Peterson was a decade ago, he’s still a known commodity.
“I think it does help that we’re familiar with him,” Bevell said. “We will have things dialed up for him. We kind of know what he does well. But again, it’s just how fast can we get him dialed in on the offense, on the verbiage? The terms are different than he’s been using the last few years. So how fast can we get him dialed in and how big can that package be? Does it have to be real concise and we’re just going to do a few things? Or how outstanding is his recall and what are we going to be able to do?
“So as the week goes on we’ll be able to prepare and see that. I think it does help that it’s a game-plan week because you don’t have this full menu that you normally do during training camp. So there’s specific things that we’ll do. So I don’t have any reason to believe that he won’t be able to do all the things that we’re asking him to do. And then kind of let it go, see how it shakes out.”
The division of labor questions remain for the Lions backfield, but it’s clear that adding a player of Peterson’s stature at this point in the season suggests the Lions aren’t willing to simply wait to watch young players develop.