SNIDER: Adrian Peterson must be more than a mentor


It would be easy for Redskins running back Adrian Peterson to blow off a crowded room of young running backs. Let the kids figure it out themselves rather than risk his carries this fall. But the future first-ballot Hall of Famer isn't leaving the game like that. He remembers meeting San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson as a rookie in 2007, when the latter came off an 1,815-yard season. The post-game chat impacted Peterson to this day. "What (Tomlinson) told me was, 'Hey, just continue to put in the work that you have put in. You can always be respectful to your peers, but in order to be the best you have to think and put the work in to be the best,'" Peterson said. "That's something that I've continued to share with young guys when I meet them.

"There's nothing wrong with respecting me or other running backs that you might look up to, but you want to have in your mindset that you are going to be the best to play the game. . . . It feels good to kind of flip positions and be that guy that's delivering that message to a lot of young guys now." Peterson may share advice, but he may not share many carries this season. The Redskins still need him to be the running game's foundation, even at age 35. Oh, Antonio Gibson will run some gadget plays and Derrius Guice will try once more after two injury-riddled seasons. J.D McKissic could get some third-down runs, and Bryce Love doesn't want to be forgotten after missing his rookie season in rehab. But, Peterson comes off his best yards per carry (4.3) since 2015 when leading the NFL with 1,485 yards. He only gained 898 yards on a 3-13 train wreck of a season, but AP was the steady veteran who has been a team leader since arriving in 2018 as insurance that paid off with 1,940 yards over two seasons. Now Peterson has an edge in knowing offensive coordinator Scott Turner's new offense, after spending 2014-16 together in Minnesota. Turner's father Norv was then offensive coordinator, but the scheme has similarities. "One thing I've taken from his offense thus far is the running back has a really big role. So, they're going to ask us to do a lot of things," Peterson said. "We're going to have multiple backs on the field at times as well. Just going over and learning the offense right now has been exciting to see, just our role in our offense." Peterson knows he has talented teammates, but that's not enough to get carries away from the veteran. His advice is to be multi-talented.

"Are you a guy that is going to be a good receiver, that's going to protect and obviously run as well?" he said. "Those are the key things – how much can you contribute to the offense? Can you be a three-down back? Can you be in there on every down?" "I'm helping those guys improve. I want to see those guys prosper," he said. "I want to see those guys take their game to the max, to their potential, to reach their full potential. I'm not that guy that's going to withhold something, to get myself an edge. A lot of these guys look up to me and still do at a young age. I'm going to do my part."

It all sounds good that Peterson is ready to help grow his successors. It sounds logical. But come season's end, don't be surprised if he's still the team's rushing leader.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks