Adrian Peterson has a flare for building up hype.
The newest member of the New Orleans Saints is doing his best this offseason to convince his new fanbase that he will bounce back to the old version of All Day., even if he will split reps in the backfield with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara.
“I don’t need all those carries to be my best,” Peterson told Dan Pompei of the Bleacher Report. “I don’t think I became a great player by having to have 20 or 30 carries to get 200 yards. If they feed it to me, hey, I’m going to eat. Whenever I get opportunities, I’ll take advantage of them.”
Last year, Peterson only carried the ball 37 times for 72 yards. He slowed by a torn meniscus and a struggling offensive line. Even with better blocking and a healthy knee, it’s a long shot that the future Hall of Fame running back will look like the dominant All-Pro version of 2007-2012. Since 2013, he’s averaged 4.4 Yards Per Carry and 6.5 Yards Per Catch – down from 5.0 and 8.2, respectively, from ’07-’12.
“Yes, the doubt motivates me,” Peterson said. “I’d be lying to say it doesn’t. You want to do things people say you can’t do.”
Peterson isn’t the only one pumping up his upcoming season. Head coach Sean Payton was especially hyperbolic when talking about his veteran running back bucking the aging curve.
“There are some things I’ve seen him do that are rare,” Payton said. “Regardless of how talented anyone is, at some point it fades or diminishes. I don’t think it’s happened for him yet. I really don’t. And that’s exciting. I think he’s physically capable of giving us a very, very high, elite-level performance. I feel that way. It’s a little different with this player than the norm with age.”
The Saints will find out quickly if Peterson still has the explosiveness to put together a special season as New Orleans faces the Vikings and Patriots in the first two weeks.