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Adrian Peterson on joining the Cardinals: ‘I have so much left’

Running back Adrian Peterson admits he wasn’t comfortable in his role with the New Orleans Saints.

Four games removed from his 10-year NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, Peterson wanted a change of scenery. A text from a friend alerted Peterson to the welcome, surprising news.

On Tuesday morning, he’d been traded to the Arizona Cardinals. It just took him a few moments to confirm that he’d been given a chance to show he’s still the Adrian Peterson whose career trajectory already points directly to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I’m checking Twitter and Instagram on my phone, I turn the TV and it’s like breaking news, and it’s like, ‘Thank you Jesus.’ He answers prayers,” Peterson told the media assembled at the Cardinals’ practice facility on Wednesday.

“I wasn’t pushing to be moved, but I’d be lying to you to say that I didn’t want a change of scenery. It was something I was praying about,” he added. “Like, ‘hey, God, I need you to answer this prayer for me.’ You know, he listened to me.’ In the midst of that, I was still in tune and locked in.”

It’s expected the seven-time Pro Bowler and one-time MVP with seven seasons of more with at least 1,266 rushing yards will need to lock in for Arizona.

That’s because he’ll play. And possibly a lot.

After the Cardinals traded a conditional sixth-round pick to acquire him from the Saints on Tuesday, they released fellow veteran back Chris Johnson and placed Peterson atop their official depth chart.

Peterson rushed 27 times for 81 yards in limited action with New Orleans — he said that his role alongside backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara with the Saints “unsettled” him. Now with Arizona, Peterson believes he can produce, even behind an injury-decimated offensive line.

“I have so much left. I look to play at least four to five more years,” he said.

The Cardinals rank dead last with 259 rushing yards through Week 5, which is 40 yards short of the next-worst team (Miami) and nearly 600 short of league-leading Jacksonville. At 2.6 yards per carry, Arizona is the only team that averages less than 3.2 yards per attempt.

“What are my concerns? Make it better,” he said when asked about the under-performing offensive line. “That’s the only thing I’m coming in here thinking about is changing that so we can present, to a defense, a more balanced offense.”

Coming to Arizona, Peterson joins veteran wide receiver and good friend Larry Fitzgerald, whose father covered Peterson as a Minnesota-based journalist.

The running back has found comfort in that. As much as he was excited to have an opportunity to earn a larger volume of snaps, he said Fitzgerald was excited to welcome him to the Valley.

“He was like, ‘hey, you’re staying in my guest house,'” Peterson said. “I’ve never heard the excitement in his voice that I heard when he called. It felt good to hear that, from a good friend. He knows what I’ve been going through.”

Below, here are a few other notable quotes from Peterson’s first media session as a Cardinal:

On his experience in New Orleans:

“Outside of the role that I played, it was a wonderful experience. Seriously, it was – great people, the city of New Orleans and Metairie and Kenner, those areas. A great fan base. The organization, from the top to the bottom, was awesome. The only thing that I was unsettled with was my role. Being in the midst of that, I made the best of that situation, but now it’s a new chapter so I’m trying to look ahead.”

On what it means to be a featured back again and regaining that role:

“It means a lot. It shows that you’re appreciated and that someone, an organization, believes in you and what you’re able to do. Not to say that that wasn’t necessarily the case there in New Orleans, because me and Coach (Sean) Payton talked the four weeks I was there. On Tuesday, we were having a conversation. It’s unfortunate when you have three backs in that system. What they ask from the running back, we all could do it. Mark (Ingram) could have done it as well, but the young guy was someone that they were intrigued about and he pretty much got the role. It feels good to be here and to have the opportunity to show what I can do.”

On what head coach Bruce Arians has told him about his role and what is expected of him:

“First thing’s first, is coming in and learning the system – totally different terminology. I was up until three o’clock last night, just going over the plays and the language and trying to come to grips with everything. I would expect that they’re expecting a lot from me, and that’s OK. I have a good group of guys around me in the running back room. They’ve been talking to me. ‘Hey, if you need help with this … ’ and just explaining different things to me. I’ll be able to pick up what I need to, to be able to go out and be productive on Sunday. I have a couple days ahead of me that I’ll be having my nose in the playbook and meeting with Coach and talking to these young guys and just get ready go. But, I’m sure that they’re expecting a lot, and I’m OK with that.”

On his impressions of QB Carson Palmer, being on the same team and if Palmer can help him transition:

“Oh yeah, I’ll be asking him a lot of questions. When things pop up, he said it, ‘If you have any concerns or second-guessing anything,’ which that’s not what I want to do, but (he said) ‘Know that I’m here.’ He’s been a great player for a long time now. I was actually in there just kind of looking at him. I was like, ‘Wow. Palmer, he has been around for a long time and has done it at a high level.’ He looks good. He looks like a young guy. But, I’m excited to be around him and learn more about him and the rest of my teammates.”

On the Cardinals having the opportunity to draft him in 2007 and if they showed any interest in picking him:

“Yeah, they showed interest. But, ultimately they went in a different direction. I’m sure if they could flash back, they probably would have done things differently. I’m sure Oakland would have done things differently, too, but I’m here now. Things have come full circle. So, I’m going to make the best of my opportunity.”

On RB David Johnson and the opportunity to play together when he returns from injury:

“I like him. He’s a young back that has come in and has had an incredible career so far with what they’ve asked him to do here, a humble guy, down to earth and a hard worker. That’s all I’ve heard about him, and just the opportunities I’ve had to talk to him were brief. He came to Minnesota, and I just had to congratulate him on the things that he had accomplished so far and things like that. He was just like, ‘Hey man, I’m just trying to be like you. You’re one of the guys that have paved the way.’ So for me, I sit back and kind of just marvel and smile when I hear young guys like that say how I influenced them and their play and their work ethic.”

On playing with an “I’ve still got it” mentality and if that is his motivation:

“Well, I don’t think it’s that mentality like ‘I’ve still got it.’ But, that’s all you hear from the media. I’m not saying all you guys and ladies, but (you hear) ‘Oh, he’s lost it,’ and this and that. Of course, in my mind, it’s like ‘OK, I know that’s not the case.’ But, when I go out there, I’m always putting my best foot forward, and I feel like that will speak for itself.”

On if pass routes and pass protection will present the biggest challenges when transitioning into a new offense:

“Yeah, I would say that, because I’ve been running balls pretty much easy, A-gap, B-gap, six-hole, nine-hole, so pretty basic. I feel like any system is about being on the same page with the offensive line, knowing your assignments, knowing the route you have with protections to make sure you keep that quarterback upright. That’s going to be the toughest challenge for me.”

On what he likes about the offensive line:

“The guys, they fight. If you get knocked down, you get up and you continue to swing. I like that.”

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