Nashville, Tenn. (AP) — Adrian Peterson was working out a routine to stay in football shape, even dipping around corners to test his eyes as he turned to daylight And copied back cutting.
He kept brushing off the idea that no NFL team would call again. His career could end after 14 seasons, rushing 14,820 yards, seven Pro Bowl berths, and an MVP award in 2012.
Then the Tennessee Titans called. Not just an NFL team, but a franchise that currently sits at the helm of the AFC and has a big lead in its division. Big change from their previous two teams.
“It’s wonderful,” Peterson said on Friday.
A potential Pro Football Hall of Fame clock will have to wait for the start.
The Titans (6-2) need help in place of NFL Rushing leader Derrick Henry after the two-time Rushing champion suffered leg surgery on Tuesday. They signed Pietersen in the practice squad on Tuesday and promoted him to the 53-man roster on Friday. Their 15th season begins on Sunday night against the Rams (7-1) in Los Angeles.
“Yeah, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Peterson said. “About 10 months. But I’m feeling good, so they call my number, I’ll go out there and contribute in every way I can. I keep my body physically and mentally fit and for a moment like that I do a great job of keeping myself ready.”
Pietersen may not have been with a team since his lone season ended in Detroit. But he’s working on the track in Texas specifically to keep his legs and lungs ready to run.
He joins a team that is bang on and needs slow practices. Pietersen hit the ground going fast with his fresh legs. Another reason Peterson is so excited? Crime of the Titans drives the kind of in- and out-of-the-zone plays that fit him perfectly.
“You think about the ideal situation for me to run and like my style, it would be right here,” Peterson said. “So I’m just gonna live in the moment and enjoy it and do whatever they asked me to do.”
The Titans are Peterson’s sixth NFL team. Minnesota drafted him in 2007 from Oklahoma in seventh place, and he played 10 seasons for the Vikings. He split the 2017 season between New Orleans and Arizona. Pietersen played for Washington in 2018 and 2019 before spending the previous season with Detroit.
Peterson won’t be wearing the number 28 she wore with Minnesota, New Orleans and Detroit. That number is for the Titans currently trailing Jeremy McNichols.
When Peterson made his debut with a new NFL team, he made quite an impression. He has run at least 100 yards twice and topped 100 yards from scrimmage four times. This includes the previous season when he ran for 93 yards and 21 yards in the Lions’ season opener against Chicago.
This is the second time the Titans have added a player to their Hall of Fame resume. In 2010, the Titans started 5–3 when they were the only team to lay claim to wide receiver Randy Moss. The Titans lost seven of eight to Moss and finished 6–10 in coach Jeff Fischer’s final season with the franchise.
Who starts against Ram remains to be seen. McNichols, a fifth-round pick out from Boise State in 2017 by Tampa Bay, has never started an NFL game and has only seven times for 38 yards this season. He has been the third-down specialist to excel on the screen this season with 21 catches for 203 yards.
Pietersen said he saw Henry as the front runner for MVP, so taking his place meant a group effort.
“I want to do whatever I can to help this team succeed,” Pietersen said.
Notes: Titans RG would be without Nate Davis (concussion). He was knocked out along with LB Ration Davis (ankle) and FB Khari Blasingem (knee). CB Greg Mabin (ankle) was dismissed, then placed on injured reserve on Friday. … WR AJ Brown (knee) and LT Taylor Levan (knee) are in doubt after not practicing on Friday. …OLB Harold Landry, who has a team-high 8 1/2 sacks, was limited throughout the week in practice.
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