New Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson is preparing to play his 16th career game against the Chicago Bears.
Peterson's had a lot of success over the years against Chicago, totaling 1,599 yards and 14 touchdowns in the previous 15 matchups.
But it's Peterson's first-ever meeting against the Bears as a rookie in 2007 that jumps out. Peterson delivered an all-time performance in that game nearly 13 years ago.
He racked up 361 all-purpose yards on 25 total touches, which still ranks as the third most all-purpose yards an NFL player has ever had in a game, trailing only Glyn Milburn (404 in 1995) and Billy Cannon (373 in 1961).
Peterson said in a Zoom call with Detroit reporters Thursday afternoon that game is still special to him and he has the jersey he wore in the game framed and displayed in his home.
It was also the game Peterson said he got his "welcome to the NFL" hit from Bears linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.
"They were kind of talking a little trash to me on one play, it was an inside zone play I tried to bounce it out and they came down pursuing on me and laid the wood on me pretty good. Laid the helmet down on me," Peterson said.
"I remember just getting up and kind of like smiling and running back to the huddle, but that kind of got me wired up a little bit because these were guys that obviously I looked up to."
Peterson's stat line when it was all said and done that game looked like this: 20 rushes for 224 yards (11.2 avg.) and three touchdowns; one reception for nine yards; four kickoff returns for 128 yards (32.0 avg.). It's still the only time in NFL history a player has recorded 200-plus rushing yards and 100-plus kickoff return yards. It was the first time in Peterson's career he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, an award he's won 8 times since.
Peterson's recollection of that game and certain plays within it was pretty impressive, down to which blocks he cut off.
But what was he most proud of?
"I went in because we needed a big play, so I went in on kickoff return and I almost took it to the house, I think I ran for like 60 or 65 yards or something like that," Peterson said. "I recall that play the most because we were able to get in field goal position and put ourselves in a position to kick the game-winning field goal and that pretty much just capped off that day for me."
It was a 53-yard return by Peterson to the Chicago 38-yard line in the final two minutes that helped set up the 55-yard game-winning field goal in the Vikings' 34-31 win.
That performance was a long time ago, but Peterson is excited to once again be back in the NFC North with Detroit. He loves the opportunity he has in front of him with the Lions.
He says he's ready to strap it up Sunday and he expects to contribute right away any way the Lions see fit. We saw what he did in his first game vs. Chicago. What will Game 16 bring?
GOLLADAY AND VAITAI STATUS
Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay injured his hamstring in Wednesday's practice and did not take part in practice Thursday, though Lions head coach Matt Patricia didn't seem overly worried about it when talking to reporters before practice, saying the team was being cautious with their top receiver heading into Sunday.
"It was just something that happened yesterday, and we were just trying to make sure we did a good job of taking a look at it," Patricia said. "Coming off a couple of days off, obviously, practiced a little bit on Sunday. Saturday was Saturday, Monday, didn't do much, Tuesday (didn't practice). So, guys are a little bit tight, guys are a little bit sore."
It's something to monitor over the next couple days.
Another injury to watch is that of starting right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was also injured in Wednesday's practice (foot) and did not take part in Thursday's practice.
Those are two players expected to be key contributors for the Lions. We'll see how the next couple days look for them on the participation front. The Lions will release game designations on Friday afternoon.
In a normal year, the Lions would have had officials out to training camp practices. The coaching staff and team would have went over all the penalties on film and explained to players why it was called and what to do to prevent it moving forward.
But due to COVID-19 and the precautions the NFL put in place, referees weren't allowed at practice.
"I think it's good just to get used to interacting with the officials, how they see things," Patricia said. "A lot of times when we have those guys in, we actually get a lot of work done not on the practice field. There's a lot of time spent in the meetings, in the classrooms with the officials, the players, the coaches, trying to get interpretations, how they see things.
"We would put penalty tapes together, I would show them to the team, I would explain to them why those are penalties, what the officials are looking for. We really try to do our due diligence there to make sure that every day we were coaching penalties and what not to do and certain things that we know that they look for that they will call. So, we try to make a big emphasis of it from a coaching standpoint, but probably never the same as it would be if the officials were here."
It will be interesting to see how that might impact the beginning of the season and whether we might see more penalties early in the season than we normally would.