Sean Payton calls Adrian Peterson-Redskins pairing ‘a perfect fit’
A year ago, Adrian Peterson was the odd man out in New Orleans. Last season, the running back signed a two-year deal with the Saints, but it became quickly apparent the Saints preferred to play starter Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara ahead of the former MVP.
Peterson, too, averaged just three yards per carry (81 yards on 27 attempts) in four games before the Saints traded the veteran to the Arizona Cardinals. The short stint led observers to believe Peterson was finished in the NFL.
But as the Saints gear up to face the Redskins on Monday, coach Sean Payton said he’s not surprised by Peterson’s success with Washington.
In three games, Peterson has 236 yards for three touchdowns.
“I think it’s been a perfect fit really,” Payton said. “When he was here, we still saw it. We still saw everything through the offseason into the regular season. The challenge for us became just the amount of touches with the number of backs we had, but I think it’s a great match.”
Peterson told reporters he holds no grudges against New Orleans, though admitted he wondered was still went wrong in his time there.
Kamara, however, emerged as a dynamic player for the Saints. The 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Kamara averaged 7.35 yards per reception and 5.53 yards per carry when Peterson was still with the Saints and that number spiked to 11.13 yards per reception and 6.14 yards per attempt after Peterson was traded.
Even Peterson could see Kamara’s skill set.
“Yeah, I know talent when I see it,” Peterson said. “He was a guy I knew was going to play. there’s no way he’s not going to take the field. It was a no-brainer that he was going to be there for a long time.”
The Redskins, though, have gotten a lot out of Peterson despite a heavy number of skeptics when the team signed him in August. Besides concerns about his age, the 33-year-old running back often ran different concepts and schemes when he was with the Minnesota Vikings. People needed to see how Peterson would fit in coach Jay Gruden’s offense.
Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan said Washington adapted to Peterson by tweaking their play calling, using existing plays to better fit the running back’s preferences.
“We’re always going to try to do what’s best for our players and feature the things that they do best,” Callahan said. “So Adrian has a history of running between the tackles pretty effectively and with great production. So we try to do those types of things.
“It’s more of an emphasis than a type of change,” he added.