Perhaps the strangest sight at Saints headquarters in Metairie, La., isn’t Adrian Peterson’s new uniform. It’s the fact that defenders aren’t scurrying to get away from it out of fear of touching Peterson once the ball is snapped.
For years in Minnesota, Peterson was treated with more caution than the quarterbacks. Or, as safety Jamarca Sanford once said, “The rules are simple. Don’t touch 28.”
But years have passed. Peterson was released in Minnesota and resurfaced in New Orleans, where he no longer represents a franchise’s whole offensive pie. He’s now a 32-year-old complementary piece in Drew Brees’ offense, one of three key running backs along with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara.
In this scenario, a franchise does not hold its breath every time a defender touches 28 in training camp. On Wednesday against his own defenders and Thursday in a joint practice with the Texans, Peterson was hitting holes with force. And defenders were forcefully returning fire.
“I like it,” Peterson said Thursday. “It’s good to be tested and to get some contact. It’s great.”
And now, apparently, the Saints are going to put Peterson in a preseason game after holding him out of the first two. Coach Sean Payton said this week that he’s probably going to play his stars in the team’s third preseason game Saturday night against Houston at the Superdome. The includes Brees, Ingram, defensive end Cameron Jordan and Peterson.
“We’ll try to get him some work here on Saturday,” Payton said.
Peterson has not carried the ball in a preseason game since 2011. He missed all but three games last season after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right leg.
“I’ve been practicing as if I’m going to play Saturday, and my mind says that’s been the point,” Peterson said. “I’m ready. If they call on me, preseason or not, I’m going to go out and do what I have to do.”
LINE SIGNED: Former Vikings fullback Zach Line signed late Wednesday after a workout and was on the practice field on Thursday. He didn’t see much action in the joint practice but probably will get some reps on Saturday. The Saints already have Jon Kuhn at fullback, but signed Line after deciding to release fullback John Robertson-Woodgett. Line played in 31 games with nine starts for the Vikings the past two years.