Ahead of one of the most unique season openers in NFL history, Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia isn’t about to hand the Chicago Bears any informational advantage. So when it comes to discussing a possible role for running back Adrian Peterson — who was officially signed on Monday — Patricia was predictably vague.
“You know, we’ll see,” Patricia said. “It’s Monday and he just got here so we’ll see how everything goes.”
One advantage Peterson has is a familiarity with Detroit’s offensive scheme. The first four years of his career, he played for Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who held the same title with the Minnesota Vikings from 2006-10.
“I think I was it was a great part of just a kind of a perfect storm, a combination of things to get them here,” Patricia said. “I think that being familiar with Bev’s offense and obviously being very productive in that offense — I think he had a game with 291, 261 yards. (Peterson ran for 296 yards against the Chargers in 2007.)
“Ridiculous, right?” Patricia continued. “That’s always a good draw, when you have that sort of production in particular offensive scheme. And certainly I think being familiar with the type of offense that we run, for him to be able to come in without a training camp and step right in and hopefully try to contribute is a big factor that gave us a little bit of an advantage.”
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Of course, Peterson was much younger then. He’s 35 now, well past his physical prime. That said, he’s managed to be pretty productive into the twilight of his career. The past two seasons with Washington, he amassed nearly 2,300 yards from scrimmage, scoring 13 touchdowns and averaging 4.2 yards per carry.
Patricia wasn’t about to put any statistical expectation on the new addition.
“Nothing more than what we expect that everybody,” Patricia said. “You know, go out there and compete, work hard and try to do everything he can do contribute to the team and help the team win, whenever that whenever that’s ready, whenever that is ready to take place.”
Contrasting Patricia’s even-keeled responses about the signing is the excitement percolating through Detroit’s locker room. Several players commented on the signing via social media, while quarterback Matthew Stafford said it’s nice to finally be on the same side as the legendary running back and longtime division rival.
“Glad to see him in our uniform,” Stafford said. “Saw him too many years in the purple and gold and he was doing his thing against us.”
That checks out. In 15 games against the Lions in his lengthy career, Peterson has run for 1,517 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But of all the players on the roster, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone more excited than center Frank Ragnow, a Minnesota native who grew up a huge Vikings fan.
“I was literally asking the O-line room the past day, just like how I should introduce myself because I was freaking out so much,” Ragnow said. “What year was he drafted? What was it like, 2008 or something like that (it was 2007)? I think I got a jersey right when he entered the league. I remember, AD, ‘All Day,’ baby. I remember him running for 296 vs. the Chargers. Wow, just wow. I can’t even describe it. My family is freaking out, all my friends back home are freaking out, it’s pretty cool.”
For what’s it’s worth, Ragnow settled on, “Hey, I’m Frank Ragnow.”
“I just kept it cool,” he said.
To make room for Peterson on the roster, the Lions placed running back Bo Scarbrough on injured reserve.
The team has battled a number of injuries at the running back position during training camp, with both Scarbrough and rookie D’Andre Swift missing extensive practice time. Additionally, starter Kerryon Johnson was held out of a number of team segments, taking a conservative approach with a player who has missed nearly half of the regular season each of the past two seasons due to knee injuries.
Despite all that, Patricia insisted the Peterson signing was independent of team’s durability concerns at the position.
And if you were hoping for an update on the health of any of Detroit’s players heading into the season opener, you probably knew Patricia wasn’t going to offer up any information for the Bears to scout.
“As far as the injury situation, really probably good right there,” Patricia said. “I think we’ll wait until Wednesday and do the injury report right there. If you guys got any info on Chicago that you want to send my way, if (Chicago coach Matt) Nagy’s giving anything away, you can let me know that, too.”