Adrian Peterson knows things are a bit chaotic for the Washington Redskins’ offense without Trent Williams. Williams’ absence during his holdout affects every quarterback and every running back and the normal operation of things. And there is no telling if the Pro Bowl left tackle will return to his locker, which is still stuffed with jerseys and unopened packages.
With that acknowledgment comes more responsibility for Peterson.
“We feel like we are the ones that are going to carry this team,” Peterson said about the Redskins’ running backs. “That’s the mindset that we have, and that’s how we approach practice.”
Peterson just went through his first full training camp after joining Washington when Derrius Guice tore an ACL in the first exhibition game last season. The future Hall of Famer went on to post his first 1,000-yard season since 2015 and was rewarded with a two-year deal. There’s more comfort, familiarity and an instant understanding of each play.
“It all comes with repetition,” Peterson said.
Peterson spoke with reporters Tuesday for the first time since camp began and addressed a variety of topics. He didn’t know if or when his good friend Williams will return. He wouldn’t answer questions about a pending lawsuit alleging that Peterson defaulted on a $5.2 million loan. An attorney for Peterson has said the running back was “taken advantage of by those he trusted.”
Peterson did talk about the quarterback competition among Colt McCoy, Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins. He praised all three and noted how they were all coming with different circumstances, but McCoy would top Peterson’s depth chart at the moment. A sixth year in coach Jay Gruden’s system makes a difference.
“I feel like Colt, obviously, has the edge because he has the knowledge and ability as well,” Peterson said. “He’s been shown to have a really strong arm and been consistent as well.”
Peterson had a look in his eye when discussing a Redskins defense that has expressed high expectations for the season. He said the defensive upgrades — specifically free agent safety Landon Collins and rookie edge rusher Montez Sweat — has been the most impressive development in camp.
The 34-year-old also offered a glimpse into his relationship with the 22-year-old Guice, who still hasn’t been fully cleared from his knee injury. Peterson said he keeps advising Guice to have confidence in the knee because it’s stronger than the mind thinks. Peterson tore his ACL and MCL in 2011 and rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 2012.
“Four months out, that new ACL is stronger than the other one,” Peterson said. “That’s something that you can lock into your mind and have that confidence. ... You haven’t done anything with that leg in a long time, so there are still little things that you feel that might concern you. It doesn’t feel right, so it’ll make you nervous about the graft. But understanding that graft is completely strong and that pain that you’re feeling is just your body getting back into the rhythm of what’s normal.”
Gruden said Guice won’t play in a preseason game until he is fully cleared by doctors, but Peterson has seen the rust fading. On top of having faith in the joint, Peterson has recommended a series of stretches to the muscles around the knee and working on flexibility. He suggested workouts on a Bosu ball that forces a person to balance on the top of half a sphere.
“I see him getting back into the rhythm of being tackled and really testing the strength of that leg,” Peterson said. “He hasn’t played football in a long time. But he’s looking sharp. I’m staying on top of him, staying in his head about the things he can do to help him improve and knock some of that rust off a little faster.”