After just one game, the Detroit Lions running backs seem to have established a pecking order: Adrian Peterson and then everyone else.
Peterson, who rushed for 93 yards, had by far the best game among the three running backs and possibly any Lions player in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears. Rookie D’Andre Swift played the most snaps. And Kerryon Johnson, who started, added value as a pass protector.
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Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Tuesday he expects to use that rotation again Sunday when the Lions face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field (1 p.m., Fox).
“We like all three of those guys, obviously,” Bevell told reporters in a conference call. “They all bring a little bit different pieces to the puzzle. There was some situational football in there that elevated some guys’ snaps – so just the way we’re using them. I think we can continue to see that rotation a little bit.”
Johnson had two carries for 1 yard in the first series. He was quickly replaced by Peterson, who rushed for 19 yards on his first carry and, even at age 35, remained explosive. Swift finished with 34 offensive snaps, followed by Peterson with 24. Johnson, who finished with seven carries for 14 yards, had 20 snaps.
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Bevell didn’t say he would stick exactly to the same rotational order or snap count. But it’s clear he recognized how well Peterson played and suggested he’s inclined to give the ball to the most productive running back in the game.
“Obviously you start getting the guy with the hot hand,” Bevell said, “and Adrian was running really well in that last game, so he got a few more carries in there as well. So we’ll kind of continue to go in that area. We really like all three of those guys, but we’re going to try to – I always say, we’re going to try to put them in the best spots to help them be successful.”
As well as Peterson played, he was still critical of his performance when he spoke with reporters after the game.
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“The third-and-1, I didn’t capitalize on,” Peterson said of being stopped for no gain in the second quarter. “My first big run, if I press the safety and cross his face to the right, it’s seven points instead of settling for a field goal and it’s a different game when the ball gets batted and they get the interception and go on and score. It’s a tie ballgame.
“So it’s little things like that that we have to be critical about that kind of get forgotten and you only remember what happened towards the end of the game.”
When Bevell was the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator, Peterson played for him in 2007-10, when he ran for 5,782 yards. That marked the best four-year stretch of Peterson’s career.
But even a decade later, Peterson has managed to impresse his old coach.
“It looked pretty good,” Bevell said. “I don’t know if I can compare it 100% to (2010), but I mean, it looked good. He looked strong. He looked explosive, looked like he had his speed. He was breaking tackles, he was making moves. I mean, just really excited about what he was able to do in that game.”