At 34 years old, Adrian Peterson is still aiming high.
The running back returned to the Redskins’ facility Tuesday for mandatory minicamp and wasn’t coy about his goals for the upcoming season: he wants to rush for 2,000 yards.
It’s a sincere answer, especially considering his breakout season last year, rushing for more than 1,000 yards after missing all of training camp, helping fill a starting void when rookie Derrius Guice tore his ACL in the preseason.
“That’s something that I always set my bar at,” Peterson said. “And I look at last year and think about what if this didn’t happen and that didn’t happen, I could’ve reached 1,500 [yards] easy. But this year I’m coming with the same mindset I had last year: come in, put my best foot forward and help this team win a championship.”
Peterson and the Redskins agreed on a reported two-year contract this offseason, keeping him in Washington to compete and lead what should be a dynamic and crowded running backs room.
Washington expects to have Guice ready for training camp to join Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and fourth-round draft pick Bryce Love, among a couple others looking to make an impression with coaches. Peterson embraces the competition, knowing that those in charge will make the decision that puts the team in the best position.
“Something Coach [Randy Jordan] said earlier in meetings was, ‘I don’t care if you’re a rookie, I don’t care if you’re a senior guy, eight-year guy, we’re going to do what’s best for the team and play the best player,’” Peterson said. “That’s all you can ask for, is open competition and for the coaches and as a group doing what’s best for the team to be the best.”
Jordan is particularly enthused about how his presence will impact the room for another season – how an inevitable Hall of Famer can change the way his teammates work on the field and in the classroom.
“You get a guy that can step off the field and say, ‘Here you go. Here’s your gold jacket,’” Jordan said of Peterson. “Just his experience, leadership, all of the things you look for in a good football player. It’s good to be able to work with him these last couple of days, and I know the group is really excited to have him.”
Along with his production still operating at a high level, Peterson has embraced his mentorship role upon returning to the facility. But it extends farther than Ashburn. He’s openly invited his teammates to Houston where he trains, and some have already taken the offer, including Jordan Reed and Cam Sims.
“Chris [Thompson] came down [to Houston] and he put in a lot of work,” Peterson said. “That’s what I love about Chris. Guice has been here, they wanted to keep him around but I was talking to him earlier today and he’s going to try to get down [to Houston] once they end camp and OTAs next week.”
Throughout mandatory minicamp, Peterson has already shown flashes from last season, busting up the middle of the defense a couple times for big gains. It’s tough to tell without pads how much the offensive line can be credited, but Peterson hasn’t shown any fatigue thus far.
At this point in his career, Peterson’s biggest goal is to win, and that means being optimistic, despite all the injuries, about the potential this team and this running backs unit can offer.
“You have a guy like Guice and from what I’ve seen in the preseason before he got hurt, he’s good,” Peterson said. “Obviously we know what he did in college, so as long as we’re both being productive I’m all open arms for whatever they decide to do. I’m all about winning and helping these young guys and making these young guys better players.”