Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis approves of Washington’s decision to sign 33-year-old free agent Adrian Peterson to compete for carries in the wake of rookie Derrius Guice’s season-ending injury, and he’s just fine with Peterson wearing the number that he made famous in Washington.
Portis, who wore No. 26 for the Redskins from 2004 through 2010, clarified Tuesday that he was joking, Sheriff Gonna Getcha style, when he called out Doug Williams, Bruce Allen and Daniel Snyder in a tweet for not putting a proper amount of respect on his name by allowing Peterson to wear his former number. Cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Bashaud Breeland are among the other Redskins players who have worn No. 26 since Portis retired.
“I hope everyone in the Redskins’ upper management is listening,” Portis said Tuesday on The Team 980. “It’s time to retire 26. After AP takes it off, it’s time to retire it. . . . It’s like the No. 1 number to give away all of a sudden. Put some respect on my name. But no, seeing Adrian in that jersey as an all-time great, I think it’s kind of a lot of respect.”
In an interview with TMZ, Portis cracked that he would ask Peterson to sign his No. 26 jersey after he makes his preseason debut with Washington this week.
“I think it’s respect, man,” said Portis, who handles sideline reporting duties for the Redskins Broadcast Network during the preseason. “I’m going to try to break into the locker room Friday and steal [Peterson’s jersey] after the game.”
On a more serious note, Portis, who took pride in popularizing the No. 26 among running backs during his playing career, likes the Redskins’ decision to sign the man who once rushed for 2,000 yards in a season while wearing No. 28 in Minnesota.
“You’re not asking Adrian Peterson to go out and carry the ball 30 times a game as he did as a Viking,” Portis told The Team 980. “I think this role actually fits. You need a determined running back that can pick up the short yardage and move the chains, and I think in Adrian Peterson you have that.”
Peterson won the NFL’s MVP award with the Vikings in 2012. Two years later, he was indicted on felony child abuse charges and suspended for six games by the NFL. Peterson avoided jail time after agreeing to a plea bargain that reduced his charges to a single misdemeanor charge of reckless assault. He was reinstated the following season and rushed for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns, but was limited to three games in 2016 because of a knee injury. After being released by the Vikings last offseason, Peterson signed with New Orleans, where he quickly fell out of favor and was traded to the Cardinals. He averaged 3.5 yards per carry in six games with Arizona and was released again in March. Peterson is determined to be the Redskins’ starting running back when Washington opens the regular season in Arizona on Sept. 9, but there’s no guarantee he makes the team.
“I don’t think he’s going to go out and give you 100 yards week in and week out . . . but as a first- and second-down guy, I think he gives you a guy that gives you an opportunity to move the chains,” Portis said. “I think he’s going to still be explosive when you look at the short-yardage situation, which we really have been horrible in. I think he’s that guy, he’s an answer to it.”
Indeed, the Redskins didn’t fare well in third and manageable situations last season. Washington converted only 44 percent of its attempts on third down with three or fewer yards to go. The NFL average in that situation was 59 percent. Peterson converted one of his five attempts on third- or fourth-and-short last season for a first down.
Portis also suggested that Guice, who is lost for the season with a torn ACL, will benefit from having Peterson around, if aging “All Day” in fact makes the team.
“He looked up to AP, he looked up to Beast Mode [Marshawn Lynch],” Portis said of Guice. “Having him there as a mentor, you’ve got an entire season to get Guice better for next year. That’s going to give him a lot of perks, that’s going to help out the running backs room.”
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