LONDON -- As Adrian Peterson sat on the sideline as a member of the New Orleans Saints, watching the carries he thought should be his go to Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, he never thought that the end was near.
It didn’t matter that he was a 32-year-old running back in a league where 30 is often a defining line in how teams evaluate players.
It didn’t matter that he had played in just three games last season with Minnesota and wasn’t even averaging 11 snaps per game with New Orleans, the team he signed with as a free agent this offseason.
That wasn’t how Peterson’s illustrious career was going to end.
“I definitely wasn’t going to let the devil do that to me,” Peterson said. “No, not at all. I knew things were going to change. I didn’t know when, but I knew. I refused to let that come into my mind, like, ‘This is not the way it’s going to end. God has way more for me. My latter is going to be better than my beginning.’
“That’s what’s in my mind, and this is just the start of it.”
In the trade from New Orleans to Arizona, Peterson went from one offense where he was an afterthought to one where he’s the centerpiece.
As long as Peterson is on the field and healthy, the offense will go through him -- just like Arizona had planned to do with David Johnson before he fractured his wrist in Week 1.
Now, that’s Peterson’s role.
“Of course I take pride in it,” Peterson said. “I’ve always wanted to, when I was a young child, play in the NFL. And once I got this opportunity, my mindset was to be the best to ever do it, just player in general. So, knowing that I can be that focal point, and I’m not selfish that way. ... If we go out and pass the ball 60 times and we’re able to beat guys on play-action, I’m cool with that as well.
"But, of course, you have to have that mindset to know, 'Hey, put the ball in my hands, and I’ll get it done.'"
That’s exactly what the Cardinals and Peterson did against the Buccaneers in Week 6.
In five games before trading for Peterson, Arizona had 100 carries for 259 yards (2.59 yards per carry) with one touchdown, a longest rush of 14 yards, and 14 rushing first downs.
With Peterson on the roster last Sunday against Tampa, the Cardinals as a team had 35 carries for 160 yards (4.6 yards per carry) with two touchdowns, a long of 27 yards, and seven rushing first downs.
Coach Bruce Arians said the Cardinals didn’t change a thing for Peterson, who rushed for 134 yards and two scores.
"It’s the same plays, the same practice schedules, everything is identical,” Arians said. “We’re not putting in different runs for him. He likes what we do. That’s one of the reasons we got him, and it’s just keeping him up to speed in the passing game."
Having Peterson hasn’t led Arians to be more creative with his planning and playcalling. Actually, it has had the opposite effect.
“If anything,” Arians said, “it’s more conservative.”
It's just been one game, but Peterson’s addition has already helped ease quarterback Carson Palmer’s burden. Before the trade for Peterson, Palmer was averaging 45.4 passes per game. He threw 22 on Sunday.
“Turning around and handing it to someone is so different than dropping and reading and getting through progressions,” Palmer said. “So, it’s nice. It’s a really nice luxury to have that ability on third-and-3 -- you can give it to him and get it.
“So, it takes a lot of pressure and a lot off a quarterback’s plate when it seems like every time you turn around and hand it to him, he could break a big one.”
Having Peterson behind him has been a breath of fresh air for Palmer, who was sacked 19 times over the first five weeks of the season.
But the question as Arizona prepares for the Rams on Sunday is whether Peterson can repeat his performance?
“I just control the things that I can control, and that’s making sure that I’m dotting my I’s and crossing my T’s when it comes to my assignment, making sure my body is ready and healthy, because I know I have the ability,” Peterson said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time. So, it’s no added pressure on myself.
“I just go out there and play ball and let the chips fall where they may.”