- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 19, 2018

ASHBURN — When Trent Williams checked his cell phone after the Redskins’ preseason loss to the New England Patriots, the left tackle noticed he had received a text message from friend and running back Adrian Peterson.

With Derrius Guice leaving the game with an injury — later to be revealed a torn ACL — Peterson, an unrestricted free agent after being released in March, repeated what Williams already knew: he was healthy and ready to go.

Now 10 days later — along with three more injuries at running back — the Redskins will meet with Peterson on Monday as the franchise explores signing another back.

Peterson at 33 years can still contribute, Williams said.

“I don’t understand the stigma when people get 31, 32, 33 — they somehow just slow down?” Williams said. “You don’t. That’s a gifted athlete, you know? He has a gift. Did Darrell Green ever lose his speed? He didn’t. Some things are just always with you. It’s you, it’s your makeup, it’s your DNA. … So, no, he’s the same athlete that you’re used to seeing.

“He hasn’t slowed down a step.”

Williams would know. The left tackle said the two trained together every day during the summer as Williams worked his way back from knee surgery.

Williams and Peterson, who were teammates at the University of Oklahoma, co-own a gym together in Houston. Williams added the two grew up 30 minutes apart from each other in Texas and first met at a track meet when he was a sophomore and Peterson was a senior in high school.

Still, Peterson’s production has declined in recent years. Once viewed as the best running back of his generation, the seven-time Pro Bowler last rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2015 with the Minnesota Vikings.

In 2017, he ran for 529 yards with the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints. He averaged 3.4 yards per carry before his season was cut short with a neck injury in November.

The Redskins, though, could use the help at the position.

Coach Jay Gruden said Saturday there was a “strong possibility” the team would sign someone after his team had only three healthy running backs — Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs.

Besides losing Guice, backups Samaje Perine (ankle) and Byron Marshall (leg) are nursing injuries, suffered in Thursday’s preseason game against the New York Jets. Washington also waived undrafted free agent Martez Carter (leg) with an injury designation.

Perine, Gruden said, isn’t expected to miss a significant amount of time, but the 22-year-old was seen in a walking boot Saturday. Marshall will also reportedly miss 2-4 weeks, though Gruden wouldn’t confirm that timeline.

Still, the injuries have left the Redskins searching for another back. On Sunday, the team worked out former New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa and hosted former star Jamaal Charles for a visit.

Charles, like Peterson, is viewed as past his prime. But quarterback Alex Smith, who spent four seasons with Charles on the Chiefs, said the 31-year-old can “bring a lot to the table.”

“There were a few years there where he was the bulk of the offense: run game and pass game,” said Smith, who noted he saw and caught up with Charles in the Redskins’ facility. “Everything kind of featured him, never came out of the game. He was that kind of player.”

Last season with the Denver Broncos, Charles took on a reserve role — playing just 20.9 percent of the offensive snaps and rushing for just 296 yards on 69 carries.

But a reserve role appears to be what the Redskins have in mind. Gruden said the Redskins “were not looking for a starter” with Kelley projected to fill that role.

“It’s a matter of if we were to have another injury and we’d have to cover our bases,” Gruden said. “We could bring one of those guys in after the third preseason game and get them ready for Arizona.”

Would Peterson, in particular, be OK with that after spending so many years with the Minnesota Vikings as the team’s workhorse? Just last season, the Saints traded an unhappy Peterson in October after he was demoted to a smaller role.

Peterson latched on with Arizona and had a mini-resurgence — rushing twice for more than 100 yards in a game.

Williams, though, said, “You don’t bring a guy like that in to be depth.”

“You don’t,” Williams said. “So whatever role he’s given, I’m pretty sure he would go with it. But if he’s coming in here and they sign him, he’s coming in to help.

“He’s not coming in to fill up the last few spots on the roster.”


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