Adrian Peterson feels as fresh as 'Year 1' heading into season

NEW ORLEANS -- Adrian Peterson hadn’t touched the football in a preseason game since 2011. But once he finally did it Saturday night, Peterson said, “I was hoping for more.”

“Once I was going, I was like, ‘Hey, you might as well just let us play the whole game,’” said the New Orleans Saints running back, who broke tradition since he’s breaking in with a new team.

Unfortunately, it was a pretty uneventful night for Peterson and the Saints' entire offense in a 13-0 victory over the Houston Texans.

Peterson had six carries for 15 yards, the highlight coming on a nifty spin move when he turned a potential run stuff into a 3-yard gain. He also caught one pass for a 1-yard loss.

“It felt good, you know. I was looking forward to it,” the 10-year veteran said. “I haven’t played in the preseason for a long time, so it was good to get out there. I think I had maybe five or six carries, 12 or 13 plays. It felt good to move around, to get hit and kind of get those first reps out of the way. ...

“Get the body kind of banging around a little bit, getting some good looks against a top-three defense. Unfortunately we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as an offense that first quarter. But playing against a defense like that, that’s one of those games you have to grind out.

“It would’ve been fun to play four quarters against them.”

Peterson’s next action will be really fun: a reunion with his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, in Minnesota on Monday Night Football in Week 1.

And regardless of how uneventful his preseason was, the 32-year-old Peterson insisted he feels as ready to roll as ever heading into a season.

“It seems normal to me. Like Year 1. Seriously. I feel fresh,” said Peterson, who missed 13 games last season because of a torn meniscus in his knee, but also got to rest his body as a result.

“I’m ready, man," Peterson said. "Two weeks before we start, I’m just trying to keep myself calm, relaxed and just focused on day by day, getting ready for the opener.”

Peterson also pointed out that it was probably good for the coaches to test out the rotation with him and Mark Ingram on Saturday. Ingram started the game, then Peterson began to work into the mix on the Saints' second drive.

Peterson’s first touch was actually a screen pass. He also mixed in some draw plays with some traditional handoffs. All the Saints’ backs -- including rookie Alvin Kamara, who got the night off -- will likely be used in versatile roles.

However, it’s worth noting that Peterson was replaced by Ingram on a third-and-4 snap from the Texans’ 8-yard line. Ingram will likely see a lot of third-down work since he is so valued as a pass-protector and pass-catcher.

Ingram’s night wasn’t much more eventful than Peterson’s. He had four carries for 9 yards and two catches for 11 yards. The injury-depleted offensive line didn’t offer much room to any running back.

Saints coach Sean Payton explained that Kamara didn't play because it's hard to give all the running backs on the 90-man roster enough touches in a game like this, and Kamara got the reps with the first-stringers in the first two preseason games.

“I think overall both [Peterson] and Mark had some decent opportunities. I said in [the locker room] there wasn’t anything flashy happening with the offense early on,” Payton said. He acknowledged the obvious: that the offense wasn’t up to its usual standard.

But the unit will have more hands on deck two weeks from now, with center Max Unger and left tackle Ryan Ramczyk likely to be available for the season opener.

Peterson also got his first glimpse Saturday of what it feel like to call the Superdome home, though it was hardly a capacity crowd.

“It felt good coming out the tunnel,” Peterson said. “Wanted to make sure I didn’t run too fast. I couldn’t see too much in the dark and the smoke [in pregame introductions]. But just to see all the fans and get a little feel of it -- I know you can’t compare it to that second week when we play the Patriots. But it was a good little tease.”