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Adrian Peterson Wakes Up Cardinals

Team needs jolt of energy to translate Sunday against Buccaneers


Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson meets with the media on Wednesday.

In order to escape lethargy, some people reach for a cup of joe. The Cardinals are trying a shot of Adrian.

The first five games of this season have been a slog, punctuated by a listless 34-7 loss to the Eagles last Sunday. So on Tuesday, General Manager Steve Keim took aim at a pick-me-up, acquiring running back Adrian Peterson from the Saints.

The work week had a decidedly upbeat feel, as Peterson's arrival brought a jolt to the organization.

"I think it woke everybody up a little bit," offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. "We're still on a mission to win games."

The Cardinals have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball, and a loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday would halt any sense of momentum. However, by adding Peterson, coach Bruce Arians sent a message to his players to keep fighting.

"You're always trying to get your team better," Arians said. "In a situation like this, it was the perfect fit. Everything just fell (into place). He was available, we needed something, and it happens to be a future Hall of Famer."

Despite the poor start, the Cardinals (2-3) are still only one game behind the Rams and Seahawks for first place in the NFC West, though it won't remain that way for long if they continue on the current path.

The team is 29th in the NFL in scoring at 16.2 points per game and last in rushing, which is why Peterson was acquired. The offense will be buoyed on Sunday by the return of left tackle D.J. Humphries from a sprained knee and left guard Alex Boone from a chest injury.

Earl Watford is expected to slide over to right guard in place of the ineffective Evan Boehm, as the Cardinals hope the personnel changes will finally result in some better blocking.

"We have way more talent in the room than what's been shown," Humphries said. "It's just a lot of moving parts. Like we say all the time, there's no excuses. All of us go to practice, all of us sit in the meetings and all of us know what we're doing, so there are no excuses. But I'm pretty sure we'll be able to make some things jell a little bit differently now that everybody's back together."

The offense was expected to struggle after it was hit hard by injuries early on. It's been the ineffectiveness of the defense that has been really surprising. The Cardinals are allowing 25.0 points per game this season, which is 25th in the NFL.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw four touchdown passes last week as the Cardinals continued their troubling trend of being unable to stop adequate quarterbacks. The Buccaneers will be another one of those tests with Jameis Winston under center, but safety Tyrann Mathieu said the struggles on defense haven't stunted the group's confidence.

"I don't think it really puts a dent in our armor of who we think we are," Mathieu said. "I think we'll be all right. Everything has to click. If (safety Tyvon) Branch is playing well, I have to play well, as well. If (cornerback) Pat (Peterson) is shutting down the opposite side of the field, then Justin (Bethel) has to do his part. We all have just got to come together and play as one."

Adrian Peterson is far from a savior, especially at the age of 32. But if his presence can help inspire a turnaround, the trade will be a steal. His presence was noticeable in his first few days around the Cardinals. Now they need it to translate onto the scoreboard.

"Any time you bring in a guy of that caliber, there's going to be some type of excitement," Mathieu said. "We haven't had much excitement the first five games of the season. Hopefully he comes in and gives the offense a spark."

Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Buccaneers

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