New Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson walks into his first practice Wednesday.
Adrian Peterson flew in to Arizona Tuesday night and stayed up until 3 a.m. studying his new playbook.
Peterson was not worried about where he would live now that he's a Cardinal – friend Larry Fitzgerald insisted he'd stay in Fitzgerald's guest house – and had been elated to be traded from the Saints, thinking "Jesus, he does answer prayers" when he learned he'd been dealt.
Now, though, there is a tight window from when Peterson first stepped on the practice field Wednesday to when he figures to be the Cardinals' starting running back Sunday at home against Tampa Bay. He joins a team last in the NFL in rushing.
"I would expect they are expecting a lot," Peterson said, "and that's OK."
Clearly, Peterson is expecting much of himself. From what he wants to do immediately against the Buccaneers Sunday to his long-term goals – Peterson said he wants to play another four or five years – the
confidence has not wavered.
"I have so much left," he said, and isn't unaware that many have talked about the 32-year-old as if he does not. "I have a lot left in the tank. Stay tuned, and you'll be able to see it first-hand."
Peterson said he enjoyed his time in New Orleans – outside of the role he played for the Saints. He was stuck behind Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara on the depth chart, getting just 27 carries (for 81 yards) in four games.
He figures to surpass that number quickly, even has he tries to learn on the fly with the Cardinals.
"I've been very pleased with the tape of him I saw this year," coach Bruce Arians said. "Just his opportunities dwindled down there. I haven't been satisfied with our running game. No knock on Chris Johnson. I love Chris Johnson. It just didn't work out. When (Peterson) was available, we thought it was the best thing for our football team."
Arians called Peterson "a violent runner who still has it," and said while the Cardinals –averaging only 2.6 yards a carry this season as a team – need to run it more, it will likely happen now with Peterson available.
Quarterback Carson Palmer called Peterson a "threat," a player who can run both past and through
defenders. For a team searching for a running game that can at least keep defenses honest, the hope is Peterson is still that player.
The mere move for Peterson makes an impact too. Peterson said of his first conversation post-trade with his long-time friend Fitzgerald, "I had never heard that excitement in his voice like that call."
"If you sign a future Hall of Famer, there's always a little pep in everybody's step, I would think," Palmer said.
There are some mixed emotions. Running back David Johnson, whose wrist injury is what put the Cardinals in a market for an effective running back, said it was difficult to see teammate Chris Johnson let go.
"Chris was a big mentor to me, but I've always looked up to Adrian Peterson," David Johnson said.
He added that he still has no timetable for a possible return, which means Peterson will be the guy for a while. Arians said the Cardinals will teach Peterson as much as they can, ruling out any potential two-back sets for now. Andre Ellington will continue to be the third-down back.
"I feel bad for the running back group in general," David Johnson said of not being able to help. "Hopefully we can get some things going."
That's why Arians and General Manager Steve Keim discussed reaching out to the Saints for a potential trade, to bring in a player who had been lost on the end of one depth chart to bolster their own.
"I'd be lying if I said to you I didn't want a change of scenery," Peterson said.
"You hear 'He's lost it' and in my mind, that's not the case," he added. "I'm always putting my best foot forward. I feel like it will speak for itself."
Players joined representatives from USAA for an opportunity to show their appreciation to those in the armed forces