METAIRIE, La. -- In the New Orleans Saints locker room on Thursday, at least four players uttered the exact same sound when asked about seeing Adrian Peterson on the practice field: "Psssshhhh."
Almost like a spit take, it indicated their awe and their inability to properly describe Peterson's combination of size and explosiveness.
“He’s a stud, man. He looks the part,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “There’s something about handing the ball off to that guy and watching him run through the hole and take on anybody who tries to tackle him.”
"I’m amazed, honestly," Saints left tackle Terron Armstead. “Seeing him just take off his first few steps are as explosive as I’ve ever seen by a human being. It’s unbelievable. I’m very excited to see him when the pads come on.”
“I can feel when he runs. ... You can feel, like, when you’re running and you’re chasing him and he’s gliding,” said Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro, who then shouted across to cornerback P.J. Williams to ask his thoughts on Peterson -- only to get that same “psssshhhh” response.
“It’s ridiculous. He has not lost any steps. Wait, just watch. He’s so explosive ... just in flat shoes out there,” said Vaccaro, who admitted that he probably sounded like the "manager" for the 32-year-old running back, who is coming back from a torn meniscus that limited him to three games last season with the Minnesota Vikings.
"Like he’s not lying, y'all, he’s playing til he’s 40. I’m telling y'all. Y'all about to see like when he tore his knee and came back and ran for 2,000 yards," Vaccaro said. "Now, obviously, we aren’t gonna just feed him like that ... but he is gonna be a factor. Mark (Ingram) too.”
Vaccaro started to say, "I wish I would've gotten to see him ..." But then he stopped himself and said, "I can't imagine he'd be much more (explosive) five or six years ago."
There has been plenty written about Peterson's strong start to OTAs and his teammates' high praise of him -- including former Saints fullback Heath Evans' prediction that a healthy Peterson could make the Saints “unstoppable.”
In fact, Peterson didn’t even appear to participate in any full-team drills Thursday (it was unclear if he was getting planned rest or dealing with a minor injury issue, since he appeared to fully participate in individual drills), so he wasn't the clear storyline of the day.
But as players throughout the locker room were asked about Peterson on Thursday, the responses were hard to ignore.
Sure, guys often hype new teammates -- especially this time of year. But the comments players are making about Peterson are truly unique.
“I’ve never seen somebody like Adrian Peterson. He’s got so much left. Honestly so much left,” Armstead continued. “His first two steps are like seven yards. It’s crazy. I’ve never seen anybody like him before.
“As a fan I’ve watched him, but not as closely as now. And just to see the cuts that he makes from his size. I’ve seen Darren Sproles make cuts with a low center of gravity, but Adrian Peterson over 6 feet making those types of cuts is remarkable. He’s a powerful man. I’m excited. Him and Mark, I’m excited.”
Saints guard Larry Warford was similarly complimentary, saying Peterson is “cut out of granite” and he “lives up to the hype.” But he offered one word of advice (which has been given by others, as well): “Don’t shake his hand,” Warford said.
It’s far too early to predict what type of role Peterson will play in New Orleans -- especially since Ingram has not yet participated in OTA practices while resting an unspecified injury.
The obvious guess is that Peterson will run primarily on first and second downs, while Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara will play more on passing downs because of their pass-catching ability and Ingram’s pass-protection ability.
But Brees predicted that Peterson will be used in a more versatile role than he was for most of his first 10 years with Minnesota.
“We do a lot with our backs. So I think he’s gonna be able to do some stuff in this offense that maybe he hasn’t done ... over the course of his career, just because we require some versatility from that position,” Brees said. “Any time you can get him in space against a smaller DB, kind of ‘look out.’
“Good luck tackling that guy in the open field.”