NASHVILLE – The Adrian Peterson experiment is over after three games.
Signed Nov. 1 to the Tennessee Titans practice squad, the legendary running back quickly was promoted to the 53-man roster before the Week 9 game against the Los Angeles Rams 9. He carried 10 times for 21 yards and a touchdown in that contest, ran eight times for 21 yards the following week against New Orleans, and had his best game last Sunday against Houston – carrying nine times for 40 yards and adding a pair of receptions for four yards.
So, overall, the 36-year-old accumulated 27 rushes for 82 yards while wearing the two-tone blue, averaging just over three yards per carry.
But in cutting Peterson on the same day the team promoted Dontrell Hilliard from the practice squad, the Titans showed a commitment to younger, fresher legs.
A decade younger than Peterson, the 26-year-old Hilliard made an impact during Sunday’s loss to Houston, carrying seven times for 35 yards and adding eight receptions for 47 yards. Hilliard wound up playing 51 of the Titans’ 81 offensive snaps, far more than both Peterson (15 snaps) and D’Onta Foreman (15 snaps).
“Speed, the runs he hit with a burst,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Hilliard’s performance against the Texans. “He was able to function in there in a very uncomfortable setting of -- all of a sudden -- he is learning the third down, he is learning the two-minute and now the second half turns into a two-minute game. He handled that. He jumped in there and returned kicks for us, too. We will keep working with Dontrell.”
The Titans also have received contributions in the running game from the 25-year-old Foreman, who was signed after Henry’s injury. A 6-foot-4, 236-pound back, Foreman has carried 23 times for 84 yards (3.7-yard average) over the past three games, adding three catches for 63 yards.
There’s also Jeremy McNichols, who’s played an especially important role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. McNichols has 25 catches for 215 yards and one touchdown this season, in addition to his 18 carries for 69 yards. The 25-year-old McNichols missed last Sunday’s contest due to a concussion and it’s unclear at this point whether he will return for the New England game.
This may be the end of the line for Peterson, who’s in his 15th season. He had not played for another team this year.
A sure bet for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Peterson has played in 183 career games, totaling 3,219 carries for 14,902 yards (4.6-yard average) and 119 touchdowns.