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Monday open thread: What role will Adrian Peterson have with the Lions?

How will the legendary back fit on the Lions roster?

NFL: NOV 24 Lions at Redskins Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Adrian Peterson in a Detroit Lions jersey?

Do not adjust your screen folks, this is not The Twilight Zone, and this is not an alternate reality where the Lions drafted Peterson over Calvin Johnson in the 2007 NFL Draft.

The Lions have not officially announced the signing as of Sunday, but multiple reports are out that the Lions are signing the legendary running back to a one-year deal. Lions fans are all too familiar with Peterson from his time with the Minnesota Vikings, having played for the NFC North foe until 2016. Of the 15 times Peterson has faced the Lions, he has rushed for over 100 yards in eight of those games. Throw in a trio of 90-plus yard games as well, and Peterson has been a Lion killer for most of his career.

Now, the tables have turned. Somewhat.

Peterson is obviously well past his prime at age 35, with only Don Muhlbach and Matt Prater as older players on the team. 100-yard rushing games are likely in the rear-view window, but he can still contribute to an overall young team. Peterson averaged 4.2 and 4.3 yards per carry in his two seasons with Washington, showing that despite all the wear and tear, he still has some juice left.

Lions fans might have some flashbacks to LeGarrette Blount, whom the Lions brought in to be their power back in 2018. However, despite coming off a 4.4 yards per carry average, Blount was historically awful with Detroit, averaging a mere 2.7 yards per carry. Peterson has been a historically better back than Blount, but any aging running backs bring an element of doubt.

Unless you are Frank Gore, of course.

As it stands, the Lions running back room consists of Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Ty Johnson, and Bo Scarbrough, with Jamal Agnew listed as a WR/RB hybrid. One of those players could be moved to open up a roster spot for Peterson, whether it is Scarbrough to the waiver wire or Swift to the Injured Reserve.

With a pretty crowded backfield, how will the Hall of Famer fit?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

What role will Adrian Peterson have with the Lions?

My answer: I expect a committee approach for the Lions this season barring some injuries or stellar performances. Peterson figures to slot into the role of bruiser or power back with the team, likely at the expense of Scarbrough’s roster spot. Peterson is not much of a receiver, which is beneficial to Johnson, Johnson, and Swift. It would not surprise me if the Lions utilize three different backs on all three downs.

For any people expecting a Kerryon Johnson rebound or a D’Andre Swift sensational rookie season, you will likely have to wait. Rotating the backs not only adds complexity to the offense, but it helps keep legs fresh. Kerryon and Swift have injury histories and neither should bear a significant workload. I do not think that this means the Lions are done with Kerryon, nor are they dissatisfied with Swift’s progress thus far. Instead, Peterson adds some veteran experience—Kerryon is already a fan—and is arguably one of the best backs they could have added.

If the Lions end up rushing the ball 400 times (they ran it 407 times last season), I would expect a split of:

  • Peterson: 120 carries
  • Swift: 100 carries
  • K. Johnson: 100 carries
  • T. Johnson: 50 carries
  • Other: 30 carries

With inexperience and injuries aplenty in the running back room, Peterson might be the most consistent part of this backfield.

Your turn.