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Redskins Want Adrian Peterson To Set An Example For Younger Players

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No one from the Redskins has specifically said it, but it sounds like exercising their club option on Adrian Peterson was an easy decision.

Just seven weeks after Ron Rivera became the Redskins' 30th head coach, he and his new staff decided to bring Peterson back to the team for their new regime. He'll be entering his 14th NFL season and is the second-oldest active running back behind Frank Gore.

In the days that followed, Rivera and Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith described Peterson as a "stud" and a "consummate pro." Rivera even said he feels that the soon-to-be 35-year-old will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He's hoping that Peterson will be an example for every player on his new roster.

"I think it's going to resonate with our younger players and they're going to see that this is how you do it," Rivera said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Peterson's status as an all-time great is almost universally recognized. He's rushed for 11,747 yards -- including 2,097 during the 2012 season -- and 97 touchdowns while averaging nearly five yards per attempt.

After spending time with the Cardinals and Saints in 2017, it seems as if he has found a way to still be a starting-caliber player into his mid-30s with the Redskins. He had 898 yards in 2019, which was good enough for seventh in the NFC and 18th in the NFL. He had more rushing yards than players like Todd Gurley (857), Alvin Kamara (797) and Le'Veon Bell (789).

All the while, Peterson has not slacked on maintaining his body or practice habits by staying later than most of his teammates to try different workouts.

"Every practice is a game for him," Smith said. "It's so important to him, he's made of the right stuff, and [he's] just a consummate pro every time he walks through that building," Smith told Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael. "Having Adrian Peterson around makes the Redskins better."

He also takes time to help the younger players on the roster, which sticks out to second-year running back Bryce Love above everything else.

"For all the accolades he's had and all the success that he has had, for him to still be down to earth and still be cool, approachable, relatable, that's been big for me, big for my development, and it's good to have him out here for sure," he said.

Peterson is also able to let his fellow running backs take the spotlight. It was Derrius Guice, not Peterson, who led the Redskins with 129 yards in their 29-21 win over the Carolina Panthers, as they found a way to work together for 228 yards on the ground.

"I'm always rooting for him," Peterson said of Guice after the win. "I want him to know, 'Hey, I'm in your corner, and we can do this together.'"

Love, who has been recovering from a torn ACL since he was drafted by the Redskins, has had the chance to sit and learn by watching Peterson during his recovery. The way his veteran teammate handles his work has improved Love for the past year.

Running backs coach Randy Jordan can attest to that work ethic, which he described as similar to Kobe Bryant's "mamba mentality."

"He's never satisfied. He ain't resting," Jordan told Redskins.com's Kyle Stackpole and Gabe Henderson on an episode of "The Rundown." "That's the thing I love about him. He probably took a week off, and then he's back in Houston or wherever he is jumping on boxes and all this crazy other stuff.

"He's probably going to come back and look like he reversed himself like Benjamin Button."

Rivera hopes that will rub off on the rest of the team.

"He can show our young players, not just the running backs, but the rest of the offense, the rest of the defense, the special teams guys, this is how you do it," he said. "That's what an Adrian Peterson means."

Peterson's production is not what it was in previous years, but he's still one of the more consistent and durable backs in the league. Combining that with how he has become an example for his younger teammates means Rivera has a valuable asset on and off the field.

"If you do it this way, you have a chance to have the type of career he's had," Rivera said.

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