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Bevell excited to add Peterson to running back room

Darrell Bevell remembers NFL Draft day in 2007 vividly. He was the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator when they drafted running back Adrian Peterson.

"I think it was when Arizona picked at (No.) 4, and they did not pick him. There was kind of a quiet roar in there that hopefully we would still have a chance to get him," Bevell remembered. "So when he fell to us – I mean – yeah, it was definitely one of those deals.

"The first time you saw him on the field, first time you hand him the ball – I mean, you could see the explosiveness, you could see the speed that he has, you can see just all the special qualities that you look for in a running back. He's certainly lived up to it to this point."

Bevell was Peterson's offensive coordinator in Minnesota from 2007-2010. In that four-year span, Peterson led the NFL in rushing yards (5,782) and touchdowns (52), and was named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams each season.

The other day that really sticks out to Bevell from his time with Peterson in Minnesota was the game Peterson rushed for 296 yards against the Chargers in 2007.

"I remember calling that game for 296 yards, and it was a special game," Bevell said. "You got this whole game plan sheet in front of you and as we were going through the game, I ended up with this little three-by-five card with, like, three plays on it and just kept calling them over and over. It ended up being a huge game for him. Special talent – we're excited to have him on our team."

That brings us to 2020. Bevell and Peterson are reuniting in Detroit after Peterson signed with the Lions after being released from the Washington Football Team late last week. Peterson's familiarity with Bevell and his offense played a role in Peterson signing in Detroit.

It's still yet to be determined just how big a role Peterson plays in Detroit's backfield starting Sunday at Ford Field when the Lions host Chicago in the regular-season opener, but the expectation is for him to contribute alongside Kerryon Johnson and Detroit's other backs.

"The guy really is a freak of nature," Bevell said. "In terms of his athletic ability and the way he's built and what his body can handle. I think he's already proved that even last year rushing for almost 1,000 yards last year. I'm not sure we're setting those expectations just yet.

"Again, we're excited to have him, but we have to see how this all shakes out. We want to get a feel for how quickly he can pick up the offense and what we're going to be able to do with him and see where he is at physically and skill wise."

Peterson rushed for 898 yards (4.3 average) and five touchdowns last season in Washington. For his career, Peterson ranks fourth in NFL history with 111 rushing touchdowns and fifth with 14,216 rushing yards.

Bevell said he likes having multiple backs on the roster he feels good about and being able to share carries. Peterson's addition won't just help the Lions on the field, but he'll be a good presence in the running back room for the young guys.

It's been 13 years since that 296-yard game Bevell and Peterson teamed up for against the Chargers. Peterson is a different back at 35 years old, and Bevell a more experienced coordinator, but maybe they can rekindle some magic in Detroit and help get this Lions rushing attack off the ground.

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