NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Newly signed Adrian Peterson focused intensely on Tennessee Titans running backs coach Tony Dews as he prepared to take his rep during a blocking drill in his first padded practice. Dews held a pad and approached the line of scrimmage to simulate a blitzing linebacker as Peterson attempted to pick him up in pass protection.
“Don’t lunge,” Dews yelled to Peterson.
The 14-year veteran and future Hall of Famer nodded yes before quickly getting back into position to get another rep. This time, Peterson ran up on Dews so quickly that he stepped on his toe as he struck the blocking bag.
The energy and effort that Peterson has shown in a few practices have impressed his new teammates. That’s especially the case for a player with Peterson’s resume. It’s something that Peterson wanted to make sure he brought when he joined the Titans.
“Great energy,” Peterson said. “I felt it from the moment I got here. This team has been competing well. I was watching the game on Sunday and you see a group of guys doing whatever it takes to win games.”
Peterson said he attacked practice to make up for the time he has not been on the field. The Titans coaches had three defensive players from the practice squad hit him during drills on Thursday.
“He’s bringing juice,” wide receiver Chester Rogers said. “He’s been out for like 10 months. You can just see he’s eager to be out there. Even in walk-throughs, he’s been going full speed, 100 miles per hour. We’re excited to block for him, see him work, see him do his thing. Man, he’s a Hall of Famer, you know he’s got something left in the tank.”
Losing star running back Derrick Henry was a severe blow to the Titans in many ways. Henry’s effect on his teammates is something that isn’t measured in yards. Just watch the Titans’ sideline when Henry breaks off one of his signature runs. The whole team gets energized. The Titans will miss that from Henry.
Part of Tennessee’s plan to make up for Henry’s loss was to bring on Peterson, a player who once provided the same breathtaking blend of size, speed and power.
At 36 years old, Peterson isn’t the same home-run-hitting back that he once was. Stylistically, Peterson fits the Titans because he still brings a level of physicality that has become a trademark for Tennessee since Mike Vrabel and his staff took over in 2018.
The Titans will likely employ a committee approach to their running back group. That means Peterson will share carries with newly signed back D’Onta Foreman and Jeremy McNichols, who is also used in the passing game.
Even though he may not get the same volume of carries as he once did, Peterson still feels that he can make a difference on the football field.
“I’m in a good place,” Peterson said. “I feel like God has gifted me with incredible talent. I’m the type of individual that even when I’m at home, I’m dipping around the corner. I’m practicing at all times.”
Having a future Hall of Famer in the building and on the practice field is already impacting the Titans.
“I grew up watching and idolizing him,” wideout Nick Westbrook-Ikhine said. “I remember whenever they interviewed him or asked about his nickname — AD, All Day. I can remember saying that to myself. He’s a great presence; makes me want to elevate my game and kind of show him that I’m a great player, too. I’m sure other guys on the team feel the same way.”