After a rough and sluggish performance in the 1st of 2 Joint Practices vs. the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday afternoon, yesterday the New Orleans Saints bounced back strong; but one of the men leading the way for a team of many talented young players was a respected older veteran who surprised several long-time NFL writers and observers in attendance with some rather impressive quick moves, that some doubted that he still had.
That older veteran of course was 11th year veteran RB Adrian Peterson; who on a running play during 11-on-11 team drills against the Chargers defense, surprised onlookers with an unexpected burst of speed --- much to the delight of many fans who watched on in attendance and were apparently very pleased to see that the 32-year old still had those moves remaining in his repertoire; based on their notably enthusiastic reaction and applause.
As QB Drew Brees made the hand-off to Peterson, the former 4-time All-Pro and one-time League MVP quickly burst through a hole at the line of scrimmage and then wowed everyone with a cut-back against the grain that allowed him to blow past the Chargers linebackers and into the secondary; which were it a live NFL game, would have gone for a huge gain and perhaps a long TD.
Long-time NFL writer and NFL Network analyst Andrew Siciliano was one of several observers looking on from the sidelines who appeared to be personally astonished to see Peterson still performing at this level, and Tweeted to his followers that Peterson's "jump-cut is still pretty nasty".
Checked out the Saints and Chargers today. That Adrian Peterson jump-cut is still pretty nasty.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 18, 2017
New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill Tweeted to his followers that: "We’ll see how consistent he is, but when Peterson makes that first move and takes off through the hole … it’s something to see."
We’ll see how consistent he is, but when Peterson makes that first move and takes off through the hole … it’s something to see.
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 18, 2017
Later in the afternoon in his article on his observations from yesterday's 2nd Joint Practice, Underhill expanded on his original Tweet; and noted that "we’ll see how consistent he is during the season, but it's impressive when Peterson makes his first cut and takes off through a hole."
"The burst is still there."
Peterson's run was among several highlights of yesterday's Joint Practice that left the Saints feeling much better about themselves, after the 1st Joint Practice on Thursday that left many Saints fans back home a bit worried about what to expect in the upcoming 2017 regular season, which for New Orleans is now only 23 days away on a Monday Night at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
"I thought overall it was a little bit crisper today than yesterday," head coach Sean Payton said afterwards.
Peterson's run certainly had something to do with that, but Siciliano and Underhill weren't just the only ones who were among a handful of onlookers in L.A. this week that are still impressed by Peterson's level of play at this point of his brilliant NFL career.
The day before following Thursday's 1st Joint Practice, long-time former assistant and NFL head coach / offensive "guru" Norv Turner told NOLA.com / The Times-Picayune beat writer Josh Katzenstein that Peterson's on-going and seemingly never-ending capabilities shouldn't come as a surprise at all; considering how "explosive" that the former college All-American at Oklahoma University has always been.
As the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 2014-16, Turner coached Peterson and told Katzenstein that Peterson still looks like the play-maker he used to be for the Vikings.
"I always watch Adrian," Turner said. "He's one of the funnest guys to watch because he's got such great effort and he's so explosive. I laughed when I saw Sean (Payton's) comments about how explosive he was because it's almost the same exact thing I said the first time I was on the practice field with him in Minnesota."
"He's going to have a big year for them."
As it is, that potentially big year is something that Saints fans may have to wait and finally see until the season opener at Minneapolis on September 11th --- when New Orleans plays on Monday Night Football against those same Minnesota Vikings, Peterson's former teammates of the past decade.
Peterson sat out the 1st Pre-Season game against the Cleveland Browns last week, and might not play in tomorrow night's nationally-televised 2nd Pre-Season game against the Changers (7 p.m. Central time on the NFL Network).
Peterson told Katzenstein and several other reporters after Thursday's 1st Joint Practice that he still doesn't know if he'll make an appearance before the season begins on Sept. 11th in Minneapolis.
"I'll talk with coach when that time comes," Peterson said. "And if they say, 'Hey, we're rolling,' we're rolling.' If not, it is what it is."
Katzenstein notes that Peterson last saw action in a Pre-Season game in 2013, but he played just two snaps. His last significant action in the NFL Pre-Season was in 2011 --- when he played in three games with 21 total carries.
So while Saints fans might have to wait a bit longer than anticipated to finally witness Peterson playing an NFL game in a Saints uniform, yesterday's highlight play at least serves yet as another reassurance that the rumors surrounding Peterson's alleged decline have been greatly exaggerated.
Though it would be great to see Peterson play tomorrow night, it makes no sense at all for the Saints to even consider playing Peterson during the Pre-Season; and take any unnecessary risks with getting him injured at this stage of his career with his 11th season in the NFL now only 3 more weeks away.
For a Saints team with enough injury issues heading into the season (see Terron Armstead and Delvin Breaux), the last thing that they need to do is trot Peterson out for a token appearance just to please fans.
As Payton noted to reporters a few weeks ago in reference to whether Peterson would get a whole lot of action this Pre-Season, there isn't any concerns that he or the organization has about what Peterson can or can't do at this point.
"With some guys, you have to see it. (And with Peterson) I've seen it."
The Saints' ultimate goal this off-season with the signing of Peterson, was to give themselves some additional "firepower" with the hope of being successful enough this upcoming 2017 season to reach Super Bowl 52 --- which coincidentally at the end of this year will be played at (yep, you guessed it) U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on February 4th, 2018.
If the Saints are able to get that same "burst" from Peterson during the regular season that he showed yesterday in practice that he still has, then there's more than just a good chance that the 2017 season for New Orleans could eventually end up right where it starts..........