Running backs who are 33 years old and in their 12th NFL seasons aren't supposed to be doing what Adrian Peterson is doing for the Washington Redskins in 2018.
Peterson has 758 yards and six touchdowns and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He may not be the same Peterson who ran for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012 when he played for Minnesota, but he also may not be far off from that player.
"It's hard to play in this league for a long time, especially at that position," said 11-year veteran defensive end Chris Long of Peterson. "He's done it at a high level for a long time, and I feel like now he's a very smart player and he's still very talented and very dangerous and can still break long runs, but as he's gotten older, he's adjusted his game. I admire that about him, to be able to play so long and to be able to play at such a high level and make adjustments in his game and change his style of play a little bit."
Peterson has always been a physical freak – bigger, faster, and stronger than just about anybody on the field. But time robs players of some of those gifts and while Peterson is still an explosive back, he's had injuries and he's been hit and all of that takes its toll on a player.
Peterson 2.0 is still getting it done for Washington after playing with Minnesota for 10 seasons, splitting the 2017 season between New Orleans and Arizona, and then signing with the Redskins after preseason injuries tore apart Washington's running back picture. Both rookie Derrius Guice and Rob Kelley are on Injured Reserve, thrusting Peterson into a prominent role after two down seasons.
"He looks good to me. Powerful. Hits it hard. Tough to bring down," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "You know he's going to be physical with you."
The Eagles, stout against the run earlier in the year, have given up more than 100 yards in five of the last six games and teams are averaging 4.9 yards per rushing attempt. Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks won't play on Monday night, forcing Nigel Bradham (playing with a broken thumb) inside with Nathan Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill in starting roles on the outside.
Bottom line: The Eagles know that Washington will give Peterson the football. The challenge is to stop the future first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
"We want to stop the run first and foremost in every game," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "We have to be disciplined and we have to be sound in our assignments and tackle well. We haven't tackled very well in some games. That has to change, or Washington will make you pay for it."