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Titans Turn To Whatever’s Left Of Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson #28 of the Detroit Lions walks off the field before a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 3, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.
That's right, Adrian Peterson played for the Detroit Lions in 2020. There was nothing notable about it.
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans have found themselves in a dire situation, as their game-breaking running back Derrick Henry needs surgery for a foot injury and will be out for much of, but not necessarily the entire rest of the season. The Titans had placed backup RB Darrynton Evans on season-ending injured reserve a couple of days ago, so he won’t be available. Nominal new No. 1 Jeremy McNichols has seven carries so far this year, and 56 over five NFL seasons. This is how an NFL team in 2021 finds itself giving Adrian Peterson a call.

Adrian Peterson was a great running back, with an emphasis on “was.” Now, he is a 36-year-old who still likes football and has the name recognition to convince teams to look at him. In 2020, he played for the Detroit Lions and finished an uneventful campaign with 156 rushes for 604 yards and seven touchdowns. He has not rushed for 1,000 yards in a season since 2018, when he played for Washington. Still, in the eyes of at least whoever runs the NFL on CBS account, that’s good enough to damn him with faint praise:

Wow, less than three years ago! Nothing changes in the NFL in three years. The quarterback handing off to Peterson in this clip was Mark Sanchez, who we must assume is still a starting QB somewhere. Funny story about that highlight: Even with the 90-yard touchdown run, Peterson did not record a 100-yard rushing game that night. He finished with nine carries on 98 yards. Yes, that means he averaged one yard per carry on the rest of his attempts.

Are you not satisfied with one non-Vikings Adrian Peterson highlight that emphasizes how much the world has advanced since his prime years? How about one more? The @nflthrowback Instagram puts together some great highlight packages. A couple of weeks ago, it posted a remembrance of Peterson when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, and he left a cryptic comment underneath:

Did Peterson mean this to say that four years isn’t that long ago, or was he openly amazed at how long it had been since he played in Arizona? Whatever the intent, one thing is clear: That was four years ago.

At this point in the NFL season, there aren’t a lot of options for the Titans. They could try trading for Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack, although their division rivals might not want to help out their competition. They could work out 27-year-old Todd Gurley, whose knees are probably just as old as Peterson’s. They could consult with Adam Schefter’s list of running backs whose agents he knows:

Phillip Lindsay is averaging 2.6 yards per attempt with the Houston Texans. On second thought, Peterson isn’t the worst option.