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Dealing Cards: Cardinals OC Goodwin says Adrian Peterson’s ‘still got it’

New Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson walks to a practice field during practice at the NFL football team's training facility Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. – The excitement over the addition of running back Adrian Peterson can be felt, not just in the locker room, but throughout the Arizona Cardinals organization. And yes, that even includes offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who admittedly is a hard coach to please.

Goodwin, however, was all smiles as he met the media on Thursday.

“He’s still got it,” he said, referring to Peterson. “For him, the style of runner he is, no matter how we block, I think he’s going to come out on the other side for at least two-to-three more (yards) on his own, and that’s the exciting thing about having him. He looks fresh, he looks in shape. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the guy would be on my team but he is, so I’m excited.

“The energy he’s going to bring to the table I would hope wakens everybody up a little bit and bring a little bit more life to the offense.”

Still, as Goodwin reminded everyone, it’s not going to matter who’s running the football if the offensive line doesn’t perform better. And to date, they haven’t, especially in the ground game.

Through five games, the Cardinals have the worst rushing offense in the league.

At the same time, Peterson, listed at 6-foot-1 and 220-pounds, is a physical running back who is not afraid to run over or through whoever is standing in his way. Even his own teammate.

“I just know one thing, if I’m not blocking my guy, he’s running full steam ahead and he might run up my back so I want to block my guy and get out of the way,” Goodwin said.

Another big difference with Peterson now in the backfield is the respect he commands.

“I don’t think many guys, that are in our room now, thought they’d be blocking for a future Hall of Famer and a guy like that,” Goodwin said. “I think it puts a little bit more pressure on them just to come through because, I think, he’s the type of guy if it’s not going well and they’re not blocking, he’s going to say something. And I look forward to do that. If it’s not up to his standard that he wants or we want, other than me [complaining] all the time, let it be him to put more pressure on them to do better to give him better running lanes and better opportunities to get him down the field.”

How many opportunities Peterson gets to run the football, beginning Sunday against Tampa Bay, has been a big topic of conversation this week.

Will the Cardinals, specifically head coach Bruce Arians, stay committed to the run?

Yes, according to Goodwin, though early success in the run game is important.

“That way you know (Peterson) is going to get more touches. If they don’t go, then it becomes more of a passing game,” he said. “I feel like with the addition of him and what he brings to the table I think B.A. would hopefully lean on him a little bit more, seeing that this is the reason we brought him here to help us out of the basement of the rushing deal, of being 32nd in the National Football League. Hopefully, it goes that way. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

OFFENSIVE LINE HEALING, POSSIBLY SHIFTING

Now the other question looming over the Cardinals, as it relates to Peterson, is what five offensive linemen will be charged with blocking for the former MVP, seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro.

Both left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and guard Alex Boone (chest) practiced Thursday. They each were limited, as they were on Wednesday. Humphries has not played since the season opener, while Boone has missed two straight weeks.

“I think last week he wanted to play,” Goodwin said, referring to Boone. “I just told him it’s not smart. If it’s not 100 percent, don’t do it so I advised him really not to.”

Boone, if he does play, would play left guard. The right guard spot, however, may see a new face.

Goodwin opened the door for Earl Watford to replace starter Evan Boehm.

“That’s been a thought process,” Goodwin said, adding about Boehm. “He’s still a work in progress. He’s a guy that played center and we forced him into playing guard. He’s done a decent job at times but it’s not consistent enough and it showed in our play up front, so we’ll go with whatever the best option is.”

DOWN WITH THIRD DOWN DEFENSE

Up until last week’s game at Philadelphia, the Cardinals had been fairly good at getting their opponent off the field on third down. The Eagles, however, converted nine of their 14 third-down opportunities, including three of which that resulted in touchdowns.

“The common theme, in all the third downs, is the coverage and the rush have to matchup,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “If you’re rushing four, the four-man rush has to create some pressure so the ball is not held. If you’re bringing five or six or seven or whatever the pressure is, it’s got to get home but the other end has to happen, the coverage has got to hold up.”

Among the bigger third downs the Eagles converted was a 3rd-and-19, when the Cardinals blitzed, on the direction of Arians, and Philadelphia threw a 72-yard touchdown pass.

“I love his input,” Bettcher said. “I’ve worked at seven, going on eight places now, worked for double-digit defensive coordinators and each one of those coordinators always have good conversations with their head coach. That’s part of the game. I love his input. I do.”

LATEST INJURY REPORT

No changes to the Cardinals’ injury report.

Defensive lineman Olsen Pierre missed a second straight day of practice after hurting his ankle at Philadelphia, while the same 12 players who were limited the day before were once again limited in Thursday’s padded practice.

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