Former teammates of Adrian Peterson are ready for the “fun” of trying to tackle him.
Ever since he was selected in the first round of 2007 NFL Draft, Peterson has been mostly off limits when it comes to taking contact from his Minnesota Vikings teammates. Now that he is no longer part of the team and has officially signed with the New Orleans Saints, Vikings defenders will have a chance to see how good their tackling skills are.
“It’s going to be weird. Adrian has been here for many years. Everyone in Minnesota loved him, not only the team but the fans and everything. It’s going to weird, first of all, seeing him in a different colored jersey, different logo,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “And also playing against him on the home field is going to be weird also. But we have to do what we have to do. If he gets the ball, you have to tackle him. Usually we don’t tackle him or touch him at all in the practice. That’s also going to be different.”
Asked for an approximation on how many times Rhodes has tackled Peterson in training camp or another practice setting, he had a specific answer: “zero.”
“It was hard to see him go, but at the same time it’s going to be fun to go out there and finally get to go hit him,” defensive end Everson Griffen said. “We always talked about it because you was never able to touch him during practice. You always had to run by him and tag off, but I think it’s going to be a fun opportunity now. Because every time we do I’m going to be like, ‘Ooohhh, I can’t wait.’ Now we get the opportunity to go out and really hit. It’s going to be fun.”
Peterson has 2,418 carries in his career. Every one of them has been with the Vikings, but his first official carry with another team will come against the Vikings when Minnesota plays host to the Saints on Sept. 11 on Monday Night Football.
Although the schedule was announced almost a week before Peterson was signed, Griffen isn’t buying the notion that it’s a coincidence Peterson’s first game in a different uniform will come against the Vikings.
“I don’t know the odds about opening up with the Saints Week 1 and all the sudden they sign Adrian. I think the NFL had a little inside scoop on what was going on,” Griffen said.
Rhodes doesn’t expect any trash talking from Peterson, calling him “quite” on the field. However, this game surely will have extra meaning for the 32-year-old running back.
“I was only here a year with Adrian, but obviously he’s been a fixture in this building for a long time,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “I think anytime someone like that says goodbye, it’s tough. It is a business. I hope everyone understands that. But I think for the people here that enjoyed watching him play and got to enjoy some of the special things that he’s done, I think it’s always going to be tough watching him play for another team.”
Tight end Kyle Rudolph believes Peterson will receive a warm welcome in his Saints debut at U.S. Bank Stadium, but Rudolph is also glad he doesn’t have to try to tackle Peterson.
Rhodes will be among those that will.
“We have to stop him from being Adrian Peterson,” Rhodes said.
“That’s Adrian Peterson. I’ve seen him run through plenty of people.”