Statistically speaking, running back Adrian Peterson turned in a historic 2018 campaign. After signing a one-year deal following a season-ending injury to rookie Derrius Guice, Peterson carried the ball more than he had since 2015 and racked up 1,042 yards to go along with seven rushing touchdowns. In doing so, the 33-year-old Peterson became the oldest 1,000-yard rusher since the 1980s, when former Redskins great John Riggins accomplished the feat in 1984.
But in talking with Redskins.com on Monday afternoon, shortly after re-signing a multi-year deal with the team, Peterson downplayed last year's gaudy totals.
"I feel like last year was just a decent season, like for me in my mind," Peterson said. "People were like, 'Wow, you did incredible, you had 1,000 yards.' And I'm like, 'Man, I should have had 15, 16 hundred yards.'"
Peterson has never felt like he's had something to prove, though he admitted it has felt that way recently based on some people believing that he's too old to produce like a featured back. Well, Peterson silenced those doubters to the tune of 4.2 yards per carry on 251 rushing attempts, and he cannot wait to build on that success in what should be a loaded backfield in 2019.
"Just coming back and being able to produce and help this team win a championship," Peterson said when asked about what he's focused on entering the upcoming season. "Be a great leader, not only by how I work but vocally as well. Just come in and have a way better season than I had last year when it comes to contributing and helping that run game be dominant, especially with me and Guice and [Chris Thompson] in the backfield. We should be able to do some amazing things."
Peterson said rejoining the Redskins was a fairly easy decision. He's always wanted to come back, and he expressed as much during his exit interview at the end of the last season.
The two sides stayed in contact in the coming months as other suitors emerged, with two franchises showing a particularly high interest in the seven-time Pro Bowler and 2012 NFL MVP. But when it came time for Peterson to make a decision, he went with what was familiar. Ultimately, he felt that Washington was the best fit for him and his family.
"Just having that experience here with the talent, the coaching staff, the entire building for me, it made sense," Peterson said. "Not only from a football standpoint, but being in Virginia, D.C., so many opportunities. It’s a great city as well. My kids love it.”
Peterson has spent the offseason training at O Athletik, a 35,000-square foot gym in Houston that Peterson co-founded with longtime trainer James Cooper and Redskins Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Williams in 2016. With Cooper putting together rigorous workout regimens, all Peterson says he has to do is "show up and go 100 miles per hour."
Running back Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed have also been working out at O Athletik, and Peterson is believes it's only a matter of time before Guice, who has been training in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, joins the group of Redskins in Texas.
"Hey, [Chris Thompson], [Jordan Reed] … and of course [Trent Williams], those guys are down here working out," Peterson recalled texting Guice after last season. "So whenever you get done handling your business here at the facility in Virginia, make sure you come on down to Houston so I can push you through the waters and see if you ‘re going to stay afloat.”
Peterson, who is currently eighth on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 13,318 yards, called Guice a "great talent" and is looking forward to seeing what the duo can accomplish in the backfield along with Thompson in 2019.
Peterson and Guice were not able to play together last season. It was not until after Guice suffered a torn ACL in the preseason opener that the organization signed Peterson to a one-year deal. Guice was one of many Redskins players to go down during a injury-plagued campaign.
But for Peterson, as taxing as it was to see his teammates "drop like flies," the Redskins' perseverance served as another contributing factor to his return. Reserve players stepped into larger roles. The team never stopped competing.
It was a response that inspired Peterson, who's excited to fight some more in the burgundy and gold.
“I feel amazing being back," Peterson said. "It’s something that I thought about at the end of the season was having an opportunity to come back and be a part of this organization and the growth of this team.”