Jaguars Respect For Adrian Peterson Matched Only By His Production
Jarrod Wilson had his fathead. Joe Schobert had plans to become him. And Todd Wash can still see him running.
That’s the kind of impact running back Adrian Peterson has had on the NFL, players, coaches and fans. Now in his 14th year and with the Detroit Lions, the 35-year old Peterson may be second fiddle to younger backs, but he still possesses the ability to run all day, like his nickname insinuates.
On Sunday, he’ll be in Jacksonville, preparing to run over the Jaguars defense, which has given up an average of 136.6 rushing yards per game. Peterson is 21st in the league, averaging 61.3 yards per game on the ground on his own. It’s something he’s been doing for ages.
“When we flipped the tape on Monday afternoon, I was like, ‘Damn, he’s still running like he did when he was 22 years old,’” remarked Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash.
“He still has his unbelievable jump cut. I think it was nine years ago, we played him in Seattle and I think he’s still running somewhere in Mexico.”
Peterson may not be quite that far, but he did have his fourth best game of the season that day. It was the 2012 match between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks. Wash was the defensive line coach for the Seahawks as Peterson ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
That season Peterson won NFL MVP after leading the league with 2,097 yards. In his 13 completed seasons, Peterson has rushed for 1,000 plus yards eight times. It’s that kind of performance that led guys like Jags safety Jarrod Wilson to idolize the former first round pick.
“It’s amazing. I actually had a Fathead of Adrian Peterson on my wall growing up, so personally it means a lot. I mean he’s one of my top favorite players of all time,” Wilson told reporters on Thursday.
Since joining the league in 2016, Wilson has been able to face Peterson twice, which means he’s past the point of fanboying. But it still doesn’t diminish the novelty of facing one of the games best.
“I suited up against him before so I’m not going to act like a fan when I see him or anything, but I just have a ton of respect for the man. Obviously, [he’s] just a tremendous athlete and one of the greatest running backs of all time. I’m just happy to get the opportunity to just play against him.
“I definitely had that ‘28’ in that Vikings [jersey]. That’s my dog, AP all day for sure.”
Middle linebacker Joe Schobert remembers wanting the jersey even farther back, from Peterson’s days as an Oklahoma Sooner. The unanimous All-American and runner up for the Heisman Trophy set a freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards.
The Wisconsin native, Schobert, was 11-years old at the time and watching closely.
“It’s funny, I was thinking earlier this week, I have a vivid memory when I was in like fifth or sixth grade playing running back in elementary school and he was at Oklahoma tearing it up just telling my grandma I was going to be like Adrian Peterson one day.
“So, it’s surreal to be playing against him now. I mean he’s been playing in the league for a long time, doesn’t look he’s slowed down a step so that’s longevity at the running back position that you don’t see very often anymore. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it.”
Peterson was listed on the Lions Thursday injury report with a non-COVID related illness but as a full participant on Friday. His ability to stay healthy and lead a team in rushing—which he is currently doing with the Lions—is why Wash is reminding his guys that they can’t take for granted Peterson is older or a childhood hero. He can still tear through a defense and make you pay.
“He has the ability to make people miss and he runs extremely, extremely hard. And you see him play behind his pads; it’s going to be very important. He really likes to be able to get the ball to bounce, so I think our guys on the perimeter and the edges have to be able to tackle well. But it’s a credit to him, how he has taken care of his body through all the years and the pounding that he’s taken; you’ve got to give a lot of credit to him. There’s a lot of respect for him in our building and obviously from us as a coaching staff.”