The search for another running back is in full swing at Redskins Park, and a future Hall of Famer is the next candidate scheduled to make a visit.
Seven-time Pro Bowl honoree Adrian Peterson plans to work out for the Washington Redskins on Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, as the organization looks to replenish a position that has been ravaged by injuries. The Redskins only had three running backs — Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson — available for their previous two practices and are contemplating signing at least one more.
Rookie Derrius Guice was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the preseason opener, and both Samaje Perine (sprained ankle) and Byron Marshall (lower leg) were injured in the second preseason game Thursday and are expected to miss multiple weeks.
“We are going to wait on Samaje and Byron, see where they’re at, and make a decision whether or not we are going to sign another one here in the next day or so,” Coach Jay Gruden said.
Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and former New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa worked out for the team Sunday morning, but both left without deals.
“We want to bring [Charles and Peterson] in to get physicals on them just in case,” Gruden said. “Like I said, we have had very [unlucky] situations with our running backs with obviously Guice and Marshall and Samaje. If something else happens, we are going to be really, really, really thin. So we just want to make sure we are covering all our bases right now, and we will address it when we feel like we have to.”
Peterson, 33, remains unsigned after he spent the 2017 season with the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals. The 2012 NFL MVP ran for 529 yards in 10 games last season, and his last standout season was a 1,485-yard, 11-touchdown effort with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015. He is the biggest name available in free agency, regardless of position, and ranks 12th in league history with 12,276 career rushing yards. Peterson, however, dealt with injuries in both 2016 and 2017.
The 26-year-old Darkwa rushed for a career-high 751 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. The undrafted college free agent originally signed with the Dolphins in 2014.
Charles, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, had 296 rushing yards in 14 games with the Denver Broncos in 2017 before hitting free agency. The 31-year-old posted five 1,000-yard seasons in a six-year span with the Chiefs, including a career-high 1,509 yards in 2012. Charles followed that up with 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing and 70 catches for 693 yards and seven touchdowns receiving in 2013. He hasn’t been as productive since ACL surgery in 2015.
Redskins quarterback Alex Smith and Charles were teammates for four years in Kansas City; they bumped into each other at the Redskins’ facility Sunday.
“I know him really well as a teammate and as a person,” Smith said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen or what will happen. Wait and see. He’s certainly someone I can go out with as both a teammate and a person. He can bring a lot to the table.
“There were a few years there where he was the bulk of the offense — run game and passing. He never came out of the game. He was that kind of a player. He was doing that for several years there.”
The past two Redskins practices have been a bit comical when the group breaks into individual positions. There seems to be as many assistants and staff as players in the running back section, with only three bodies going through the drills. Position coach Randy Jordan even joked about it Sunday when he looked at the media and asked whether anyone had any experience playing running back.
The team still believes in Thompson, Kelley and Bibbs, and Gruden acknowledged the Redskins are not looking for a starter from the free agents they bring in. The coach called Perine and Marshall day-to-day situations but added that Marshall could go on injured reserve.
“The big thing is to make sure I have three up for [Week 1 against] Arizona,” Gruden said. “So I think I have three in house that I feel very good about and maybe get another in here to compete and go from there.”
The Redskins had a number of players not participating during the portion of practice open to media; some were expected, while others were new to the sideline. Zach Brown, Quinton Dunbar, Chase Roullier, Morgan Moses, Cam Sims, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Cameron Jefferson, Ty Nsekhe, Brian Quick and Matt Ioannidis were out in addition to Perine and Marshall.
Jordan Reed (virus) and Jamison Crowder (groin) returned to the practice after sitting out Saturday.
Gruden declined to specify the new absences.
“All these guys that aren’t practicing have something wrong,” Gruden said. “They’re going to get treatment, and hopefully we will see them out there sooner or later. Hopefully we will get them out there for the next game, the next day, and that is all I can go by.”
Preseason Week 3
The third preseason game is typically the one in which the starters get the most work, often playing a half or three quarters. The Redskins, however, may be a little gun-shy when they host the Broncos on Friday because of the mounting injuries and the fact that 23 players went on injured reserve last season. There’s risk that another starter could go down organically or because of a mistake made by a down-the-line player being on the field because of injuries to others.
“That’s something I have to look at very closely with our staff and find out what players are available,” Gruden said. “We’ll get some quality work, regardless of who is out there. It’s just a matter of who I want to put out there and get ready for the game Friday night.
“So we have lots of options. We’ve got a lot of good players here that are willing to play [and] are ready to play. So we’ll have definitely some guys out there to play, and it’s just a matter of who. I’m not sure yet.”
Kimberley A. Martin contributed to this report.
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