Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson back in London as star man
By MATTIAS KAREN
SUNBURY-ON-THAMES, England (AP) Adrian Peterson is racking up the frequent flyer miles with his back-to-back trips to London. This time he's hoping to pile up the yards as well.
Peterson is back in Britain with the Arizona Cardinals less than three weeks after coming over with the New Orleans Saints. While the surroundings are familiar, the running back is in a much better mood after suddenly looking like the Peterson of old in his first game with the Cardinals (3-3).
Peterson will become the first player to take part in two London games in one season when the Cardinals face the Los Angeles Rams (4-2) on Sunday.
When the Saints beat the Miami Dolphins at Wembley on Oct. 1, Peterson finished with 4 carries for 4 yards -- indicative of his unsuccessful short stint in New Orleans. After his trade to Arizona, he put up 134 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-33 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday and named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
"It was amazing. Just to get the opportunity that I've been waiting for. That was all I wanted, was that chance to go out there and contribute and show what I'm able to do," Peterson said ahead of the team's first practice session outside London on Wednesday. "To sit on the sideline for the first time in my career, averaging less than 10 plays a game for four weeks.
"There were times when I was down, mentally. But I just kept the faith and kept believing and kept working. And the opportunity came, and I was able to take advantage of it."
Like the Saints, the Cardinals decided to spend the entire week in London to get used to the time difference, while the Rams are only flying in on Friday. They'll be practicing at the grounds of the London Irish rugby team, which should help them get used to the grass surface at Twickenham -- the home of England's national rugby team -- where this game will be played.
Coach Bruce Arians said the practices and team meetings will be held later than usual to adjust for the bus rides to and from the hotel, but that every other part of the preparations will be kept as familiar as possible. And Arians isn't about to make any drastic adjustments to his playbook either despite Peterson's massive impact.
"We haven't changed anything. Same plays, same practice schedule, everything is identical," Arians said. "We're not putting in different runs for (Peterson), he likes what we do. That was one of the reasons we got him. It's just keeping him up to speed in the passing game."
For quarterback Carson Palmer, having Peterson on the field means that things aren't the same at all.
"It's definitely different. Adrien is one of one. There's nobody in the league like him right now, that runs the ball the way he does," Palmer said. "Any time you add somebody who's that special or that unique, it changes things.
"It's a really nice luxury to have that ability (to hand the ball off). On third-and-3 you can give it to him and get it. It takes a lot of pressure and a lot off a quarterback's plate."
According to Palmer, even the sound that Peterson makes when he runs is different from any other running back.
"He's putting so much force into the ground with every step," Palmer said. "With a cut, when he's going to sprint ... he runs so differently and so angrily, I guess would be the way to describe it. He runs with so much violence every run."
For Peterson himself, rediscovering his best form has had some benefits at home. At least when it comes to bragging rights with his 6-year-old son.
"Now I can kind of talk some noise to my little man," Peterson said. "He was kind of dogging me a little bit. `Dad you don't have any touchdowns. I have more touchdowns than you.' He's very competitive, so he likes throwing little things like that in my face. So I told him I'm not too far behind now."
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated October 18, 2017