During Rivera’s heated post-practice speech to players Saturday, he pointed to running back Adrian Peterson and linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. to provide examples to the younger players.
The two, he told the team, do things the right way, and “that’s why they’re still playing.”
Peterson, 35, is entering his 14th NFL season and the last on his contract with Washington, but he indicated Sunday that he has no plans to call it a career anytime soon.
“The fan base here is incredible,” he said. “They show a lot of support and they remind me all the time how much they appreciate what I do when I’m out there on the field and how I play. I’m just enjoying it and embracing it, and if God’s willing, it’ll be five more years.”
Peterson sits near the top of the NFL’s record books in most major rushing categories with 3,036 career carries (eighth all-time), 14,216 rushing yards (fifth) and 111 rushing touchdowns (fourth).
With every season comes the question of how effective he can be this deep into his career. In the seasons he has played at least 12 games, Peterson’s rushing total has never dipped below 898 yards (in 2019). To post 800 yards per season now would put him in even more elite company.
Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, only three running backs have recorded at least 800 rushing yards in a season at 35 or older. John Riggins did it in 1984 when he was 35 and had 1,239 yards. Emmitt Smith did it in 2004, at 35, with 937 yards, and Marcus Allen did it twice: at 35 (890 yards in 1995) and 36 (830 yards in 1996).
“For me, it’s always fulfilling to go out there and play at a high level because I love the game,” Peterson said. “I turn people into believers. Even more so than that, show these young guys or guys that are five, six, seven, eight years in that if we take care of our bodies, we do the right things, we can have an outstanding career as well. Especially when you talk about the running back position because they like to kind of put us in this box of four or five years, typically, and you’re out. To have a really successful, or what people would look at as being a really successful career, seven, eight years in the NFL. Why not 15? Why not 18 years?"
A day after ripping into his players, Rivera lauded them Sunday. “This was a tough one today, too; it was probably the hottest one we’ve had in pads,” he said. “I thought the guys handled that very, very well and all the way to the finish. I was very pleased with the way that they handled themselves today. I think we’re starting to understand and get a feel for what’s expected and what’s needed. I thought they came through for the most part. We’ll look at the tape, and we’ll figure out what I’ve got to yell at later today.”
His post-practice speech this time was short but still included a message to take with them: Do what’s right.
“Not because it’s easy or not because it’s hard or it’s complicated or it looks fabulous. Do it because it’s what you’re supposed to do,” Rivera added. “That’s what they did today. I thought the quarterbacks made some really good decisions. I really do mean that. I thought the receivers won at the line of scrimmage, which they haven’t been doing. That was pleasing. On the defensive side, I thought they handled the front very nicely. I thought the linebackers played downhill.”
Roster move: The team released Cody Latimer on Sunday — five months after it signed him to bolster its wide receiving corps. Latimer was arrested in Colorado in May and was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list before training camp. He’s facing eight charges stemming from the incident, including four felonies. According to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, the “matter remains under review.” Latimer’s preliminary hearing in Colorado is scheduled for Sept. 10.
Young update: Chase Young, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, attended practice and dressed in full pads but again did not participate — the fourth session he missed — because of a hip flexor. During team drills, Young took the other practice field with a trainer to test his hip, working on his get-off and ability to cut.
The team hasn’t provided a timetable for his return, but Rivera did stress the need for the coaching staff to monitor him closely.
“We want to make sure before we throw him back out there, so we may be a little bit more cautious than we need to be,” Rivera said. “... We want to be smart with him, but we also want to make sure mentally he’s where he needs to be. Emotionally, it’s the same thing because frustration does set in. I’ve seen it with young guys that just want to be out there and showing everybody that he’s worth the second pick of the draft.”
Rivera added that he spoke to Young before Sunday’s practice and said the 21-year-old is “excited” to get back. “He’s going to be a big part of what we’re going to do for years to come,” Rivera said.
The practice playlist: “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg, “Hypnotize” by the Notorious B.I.G., "Hate It or Love It” by the Game feat. 50 Cent, “Mo Money Mo Problems” by the Notorious B.I.G., and “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan.