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So after an aborted attempt a couple of weeks ago, I have finally got through an entire game of coaching tape and so I’m very happy to be able to write up what I saw when I took a look at Adrian Peterson’s first game for the Arizona Cardinals against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.

I was not convinced that Peterson was going to make a huge difference to the Cardinals when he was traded to them from the New Orleans Saints but the move did make sense for both teams. It had been a couple of seasons since we had seen Peterson at his best and the criticism has been that he was not able to run out of shotgun formations and that given his ability in the passing game, when he was on the field it was too much of a tip to what was going to happen on that play.

In the game against the Buccaneers last week Peterson ran for one hundred and thirty-four yards on twenty-six carries giving him over a five yard per carry average, and he scored two touchdowns. Peterson did have one fumble, but he was bailed out by guard Earl Watford who recovered the ball for him.

The classic thing you hear about Peterson is that he is a volume runner and he runs best from the I-formation. Whilst he did not take many snaps in the shotgun formation, he was not the obvious indicator of a running play that has been talked about in recent years. The Cardinals spent most of the game in 11 or 12 personnel, with Adrian Peterson as the single back but for most of these snaps Carson Palmer was under centre rather than in shotgun. From here Peterson did run the ball effectively, with his longest run that counted being twenty-seven yards though he did also have a forty-one yard run called back due to an illegal blocking penalty, although Peterson was also called for taunting at the end of that play as well.

It has to be said that Peterson does not look to have burst when compared to the athletes around him, but he is a patient runner with enough experience and shiftiness to be effective. More importantly, he seemed to give the Cardinals balance and although he was only targeted once in the passing game, he did run a number of routes or play action fakes and so his presence on the field was not an indication of whether a run or pass play was coming.

It is too early to tell if he can continue this pace over the course of the season as he has not carried this level of  load for a couple of years, but the early signs are definitely positive and if he can give the Cardinals’ offence a genuine balance then he could help rescue their season. I look forward to seeing how the Cardinals do against the Rams in London this week.