- The Washington Times
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

ASHBURN — They first met at a high school track meet, went on to become teammates at Oklahoma, reunited years later in the NFL and even co-own a gym together in Houston. Adrian Peterson’s and Trent Williams‘ friendship is deep and has lasted years.

So if there was someone outside of the Redskins’ front office who could best convince Williams to end his holdout, perhaps it was Peterson. The running back made his pitch roughly three weeks ago.

“I shot my shot,” Peterson said.

It didn’t work.

As Williams remains committed to stay away from the Redskins, Peterson said Tuesday that, whether the seven-time Pro Bowler never plays for Washington again or is back on the field the next day — he misses his friend.

“He’s the most athletic left tackle in the NFL,” Peterson said. “And to not have him on the left side, it hurts. When you’re missing the best player on the team, you’re going to feel the effect of that. It’s different for our quarterbacks to sit back there and not know for certain that their back side is protected.

“When Trent is back there, you know that your back side is protected. It just brings confidence for the quarterbacks and for the running backs too within the run game.”

The Redskins have resisted trading Williams so far, despite interest from other teams. NBC Sports Washington reported three teams — including the New England Patriots — are actively pursuing the left tackle.

For now, the Redskins appear committed to letting the situation run its course, with the team content to fine Williams for missing practice and let the possibility of missing game checks loom in the distance. Williams has reportedly told friends he has no plans to play for the Redskins again.

No matter the eventual outcome, Peterson said he and the rest of Washington’s running backs are approaching the new season as if they will have to be the stabilizing force for the offense. The 34-year-old was exactly that last year, when he joined Washington in mid-August and went on to rush for 1,042 yards for seven touchdowns.

This year, Peterson has enjoyed the benefits of going through a full training camp. He said he feels comfortable with the playbook and the blocking scheme. He expressed confidence in the offense, even if Williams does not return.

Peterson’s role should be slightly different this fall, a change he has said he accepts. With Derrius Guice coming off a torn ACL, the Redskins plan for Peterson and Guice to split carries in the backfield. Coach Jay Gruden, though, thinks Peterson still looks “big and fast” enough to contribute plenty.

“His strength is after contact as we all know,” Gruden said. “Right now, we’re just tagging off (in practice), so we haven’t really seen the true Adrian, the burst and speed through the hole and the fire that he runs with. Hopefully we’ll see that this week or next week.”

Peterson’s comments Tuesday marked the first time the running back addressed the media since the start of training camp. Until now, he had largely been quiet due to ongoing legal matters related to his finances.

After making $100 million over his career, Peterson is facing a lawsuit for allegedly defaulting on a $5.2 million loan from a Pennsylvania-based creditor. A Maryland court has also ordered Peterson to repay more than $2.4 million to a Bethesda lender. Peterson’s attorney, Chase Carlson, tweeted Peterson’s situation was another instance “of an athlete trusting the wrong people and being taken advantage of by those he trusted.”

Asked about his ongoing legal matters Tuesday, Peterson refused to comment.

“You guys got questions pertaining to that, I won’t be answering it,” he said.

Peterson likely won’t let his financial situation affect his preparation moving forward, nor will Williams‘ absence.

“I still have a job to do,” Peterson said. “I’m still focused on winning a championship.”

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