The exception might have been early in his rookie season, when Chester Taylor was the veteran in the group and the starter for the beginning of the season. In Week 2 of his rookie season, Peterson made his first start and was the starter for nine of the 14 games he played. Taylor was quickly moved to the shadows after being the workhorse the season before Peterson’s arrival.
But after the Vikings declined to pick up Peterson’s option year (2017) in his contract in March, signed Latavius Murray in free agency and informed Peterson that he wouldn’t be coming back to the team, the face of the Vikings franchise for 10 years was forced to look for work elsewhere.
Peterson visited Seattle and New England before finding an offer with the New Orleans Saints ($3.5 million per year) that he accepted before the NFL draft. He said part of the appeal with playing with quarterback Drew Brees was keeping opposing defenses guessing about which aspect of the Saints offense to put their focus.
But the Saints also have Mark Ingram in their backfield, and he rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the first time in his young career in 2016. That means Peterson isn’t likely to return to the workhorse ways he experienced when he was healthy and available in Minnesota.
In his first conference call since signing with the Saints, Peterson indicated that sharing the workload shouldn’t be a problem.
“I’m gonna put my arm around that young guy [Ingram], teach him all I can teach him, and we’re gonna do this thing together,” Peterson said, according to ESPN.
“Envisioning myself in the backfield with Drew Brees, it was like, ‘Wow, what will the opposing team do?’“ Peterson said.
The bigger question might be what the Saints will do when it comes to balancing their offense and balancing the carries available to Ingram and Peterson in the running game (and if Peterson can be a factor in the passing game). But, for now anyways, Peterson seems willing to play the dual roles of running back and mentor.