Redskins' Adrian Peterson still has lofty goals, 'same mindset'

ASHBURN, Va. -- The goal hasn't changed for Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, not even at age 34 and possibly entering an unaccustomed role. He has ascended all-time lists for a reason -- because he hasn't placed limits on himself. Not after a torn ACL and certainly not now, just because he is a little older.

Second-year back Derrius Guice returns to the Redskins -- healthy, they hope. Yet Peterson's mindset hasn't changed when discussing his rushing goals.

"It's like 2,000 yards," he said. "That's something I always set my bar at. I look at last year and thought, 'If this didn't happen or that didn't happen, I could have reached 1,500, easy.' This year, I'm coming in with the same mindset."

But he also is entering a different situation. When Peterson joined the Redskins in August, Guice was already done for the season with a torn ACL. Peterson started all 16 games and finished with 1,042 yards -- slowing down in the second half of the season while surrounded by an injury-riddled unit. He averaged 4.44 yards and gained 604 in the first eight games; those numbers dropped to 3.81 and 438 in the final eight.

When the Redskins return to training camp, however, they expect Guice to be ready; there's optimism he won't have to be eased back into playing time. However, that remains to be seen, based on how training camp unfolds.

"He knows there will be some hurdles," Redskins running backs coach Randy Jordan said of Guice. "The great thing is he has one of the best players he can refer to and say, 'Hey, man, when did you know you got it back when you came off your ACL injury?'"

Peterson, of course, ran for 2,097 yards in 2012 after tearing his ACL in the 2011 season finale. He knows what it takes to return from such an injury. That's why Peterson isn't ready for any discussion about potential workloads.

"It's way too early for that," Peterson said. "I'm hoping he comes back. I'm excited to see what he'll do once he's cleared and able to participate."

But Peterson does understand the situation. There's also the belief that splitting time with Guice can extend Peterson's career. At the end of last season, Peterson was dealing with several nagging injuries that slowed his game. Peterson's 251 carries were his most since 2015; he had four games of at least 24 carries.

"Yes it can," Jordan said of extending Peterson's career. "There's no question the man has taken a lot of hits, but also delivered a lot. The thing I'm trying to get them to understand: All you guys can feed off each other. It allows them to come to the sidelines and see the whole game in a different light."

In other words: If one back on the sidelines notices the way the defense played a particular run, it can help him if he gets into a similar situation.

"From what I've seen in the preseason, before he got hurt he was good," Peterson said of Guice. "Obviously, we know what he did in college. As long as we're both being productive, I'm open arms on whatever they decide to do. I'm all about winning and helping these young guys."

That doesn't mean he is ready to hand over the starting job.

"That's my mentality to be that guy," Peterson said. "That's what has kept me around for 13 years now ... All you can ask for is open competition and the coaches as a group doing what's best for the team to be the best."

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has said for a year that he would like to have a strong run game buttressed by a stout defense. If that's the case, the Redskins can use two backs like this on a regular basis -- with Chris Thompson serving as a third-down back. But the every-down role will be manned by Guice and Peterson.

"They're both different, but they're both explosive," Jordan said. "Ideally, you'd like to see a 50-50 or 60-40 [split]. But the thing is, all those guys can play on first, second or third down. What Adrian brings is his wealth of knowledge, being able to go out and show a guy like Guice how to work and go about his business."

The Redskins also hope another season in Gruden's offense leads to a higher comfort level for Peterson. He came to Washington, played in the third preseason game, then opened the season as the starter.

"He's more comfortable," Gruden said of Peterson.

Ultimately, if Guice is healthy, he would be the top back. That's why the Redskins drafted him in the second round. But they also will need Peterson.

"There's enough to go around when you're winning," Jordan said. "I always tell them if we're all doing our job and doing the things we're supposed to do within the offense, then we all have success."