Adrian Peterson has been one of the faces of the NFL since coming into the league but has had injuries plague him over the last few years. The once-feared and league-proclaimed best running back was cut loose by the Minnesota Vikings and allowed to seek a fresh start elsewhere. He has found that fresh start with the New Orleans Saints.
Now, the question remains: What does Peterson have left in the tank to give to his new team?
Last season with the Vikings, Peterson ended up playing in just three games before injuries ended his season. He carried the football just 37 times for 72 yards and no touchdowns. Two years ago, however, Peterson showed that he still has superstar potential, racking up 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns on 327 carries.
New Orleans won’t be asking Peterson to come in and be the focal point of the offense. Drew Brees is still one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL, and their offense will still revolve around his arm. Peterson will be asked to help take some of the pressure off of Brees from opposing defenses.
Brees had yet another massive season last year for the Saints, completing a sizzling 70.0 percent of his pass attempts for 5,208 yards and 37 touchdowns. While he is 38 heading into the 2017 season, the Saints are still confident that he has a few big seasons left leading the offense.
Peterson can expect to be the No. 1 running back in New Orleans and carry the ball around 15-20 times per game. On those 15-20 carries, he will be given the opportunity to run against a defense that isn’t game planning specifically for him. That could translate into yet another successful season for the former Oklahoma Sooners’ standout.
Perhaps the biggest change for Peterson will be how he is utilized as a receiver out of the backfield. Sean Payton and the Saints have always liked running backs who can make plays as a receiver in addition to on the ground. Peterson has not had a lot of success as a receiving back but has been working on that aspect of his game this offseason.
Looking at the 2017 season, the NFC is fairly wide open for playoff spots outside of the top three teams. New Orleans isn’t expected to make the postseason, but they cannot be written off either.
Predicting Peterson’s statistics is a nearly impossible task this season, but it would not be crazy to think that he can break out with another 1,000-yard season. Everything depends on his health, but Peterson seems very excited about a fresh start with a different franchise. It is also obvious that he has a chip on his shoulder from the way things ended in Minnesota.
Adrian Peterson has always been a threat to take it in from deep pic.twitter.com/sY3ULz4EEH— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 13, 2017
Expect to see Peterson start out with a bang this season and put up big numbers against his old team. New Orleans may not get the superstar version of Peterson from his prime, but they are going to get a back who is capable of putting up a massive game at any given moment. He will be exactly what the Saints’ offense has needed to take pressure off of the passing game.
What kind of season are you expecting from Adrian Peterson in 2017? Do you think he can get his career back on track after a disappointing 2016 season? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Derick E. Hingle/AP Images]