- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 12, 2019

ASHBURN — Adrian Peterson once said rushing for 1,000 yards in a season was “easy.” While that might seem like an exaggeration, just remember who it was coming from. Over his career, the four-time Pro Bowler reached the mark eight times. He even topped 2,000 in 2012.

In other words, when it comes to this future Hall-of-Famer and his goals as a player, there are more important concerns.

But when Peterson met with the offensive line Wednesday, his teammates made sure he knew that with three games left, the 34-year-old is again close to reaching 1,000 yards. Close enough that the big guys up front wanted him to know the exact yardage needed: 282.

“Yeah, I’ll get there,” Peterson said.

Peterson steps on the field Sunday again as the focal point of the Redskins offense. After Derrius Guice was placed on injured reserve for the second time this season — officially ending his season — Peterson’s workload is likely to expand — giving him a better shot at reaching 1,000 yards before the end of the year.

This will be the first time he’s seen the Philadelphia Eagles this year — former coach Jay Gruden left him off the active roster in the Redskins’ season-opening loss.

The journey — from last year’s offensive star to this year’s Week 1 scratch to now, again, the team’s biggest weapon — is a reminder that, at 34, Peterson is committed to proving he can still play.

And he has no plans to slow down anytime soon, either.

“I’m going to keep going,” Peterson said. “My body is feeling good. I’m still loving the game. Obviously, I can still play and perform at a high level, so why walk away from it now?”

If he hits 1,000 again this season, Peterson would be the oldest player to accomplish that feat since … well, since he did it last year.

A 33-year-old Peterson ran for 1,047 in 2018 — the oldest player to reach the milestone in 34 years, and just the fifth player at least 33 to do so.

The group at 34, however, is a lot more selective.

Just two players — John Henry Johnson in 1964 and former Redskins icon John Riggins in 1983 and 1984 — have topped 1,000 yards. Riggins holds the record, rushing for 1,239 yards at age 35.

Around the Redskins, teammates and coaches rave about Peterson’s durability and continued effectiveness. Interim coach Bill Callahan said the veteran’s production given his age “speaks volumes,” especially factoring in how short a career running backs can have.

Times have changed in the NFL, and 1,000-yard rushers are a lot rarer than they used to be — in part, because of the league’s increased emphasis on passing. In 2007, Peterson’s first year, there were 17 1,000-yard backs.

Last year, there were nine, including Peterson.

“I couldn’t honestly tell you what the new norm is for a running back, but 1,000 yards is 1,000 yards in the NFL,” Callahan said. “They’re hard to come by.”

Peterson may downplay the number, but center Chase Roullier said he thinks the former NFL MVP still wants to hit it — and the line wants to help him get there.

“When you’ve got a guy like Adrian who is so close … with just a few games left, those little stats come to your mind a little bit,” Roullier said. “It creates a little short term goal for our group and also for him, as well. It’s something to be striving for, for the next three weeks.”

There are other milestones within reach as well.

With 14,036 career rushing yards, Peterson needs just 66 yards to surpass Curtis Martin for fifth place on the all-time rushing yards list. He also trails Barry Sanders, Frank Gore (who, remarkably, is still active), Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.

Peterson, with 109 touchdowns on the ground, needs two more to pass Payton for fourth-most in NFL history.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson called him “the ageless one” earlier this week.
Callahan, meanwhile, didn’t want to guess when Peterson might retire.

“That’s totally up to him,” Callahan said. “If you talk to him, I think he’ll play until he’s 40 years old, who knows? As long as he keeps producing the way he’s doing it, I don’t see why he can’t continue to play.”

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