Adrian Peterson has forged a 14-year Hall of Fame worthy career as a physical and productive runner with the capability of taking over a football game almost single-handedly. There are few running backs in this game's history who we can say that about.
Peterson, 35, is in the latter stages of his career, but is still doing it at a high level for Detroit in 2020 with over 500 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Tennessee running back Derrick Henry, who the Lions will square off against Sunday, has some of those same attributes Peterson had in the height of his career. He's big, physical, and fast, and we've seen him take over football games. Just last week Henry rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Jacksonville. It was his fourth career 200-plus-yard rushing performance, the most in league history.
"Now that I've been watching this guy for a couple years, he's definitely showing that he is that next best thing," Peterson said of Henry. "As far as the torch being passed, I didn't say that's something I want to do, but he's taken it, you know, based on how he has produced the last few years and how unstoppable he's been, especially this year, it's amazing just to see him do his thing."
Henry led the league in rushing last season with 1,540 yards. He's leading the league in rushing again this season with 1,532 yards and has 14 rushing touchdowns with three games remaining. He's looking to join the prestigious 2,000-yard club, a club Peterson also has membership in, being the last back to reach the mark in 2012.
Henry, 26, said this week Peterson is a player he's looked up to for awhile now.
"Every kid was a fan of Adrian Peterson," Henry told the Titans media this week via tennesseetitans.com. "I know I was coming up out of high school and middle school. Even in college, you know. Adrian and Marshawn (Lynch) were the top two for awhile.
"Big AP fan. Longevity of his career is amazing to keep being able to have production. I love what he's doing. Future Hall of Famer. Everyone is a big fan of AP. I don't think there's nobody like Adrian Peterson. I think when you say generational talent, he's the perfect running back or player to use that term with."
If Henry keeps dominating the record books at his current pace, they just might say the same thing about him one day.
DAHL READY IF NEEDED
"I feel pretty comfortable at center," Dahl said this week. "Obviously I haven't done it in a regular-season game before. I think played a game a couple years ago in the preseason at center, but I feel much more comfortable with it now. I think I'll do well."
Dahl began the year as a starter at guard, but after suffering a groin injury and spending time on IR, he wasn't able to reclaim a starting spot with rookie Jonah Jackson playing so well after he was moved to left guard to replace Dahl, and with Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Oday Aboushi filling in pretty effectively at right guard.
The Lions have had success playing reserves upfront this season, which speaks to the depth they have along their offensive line. Ragnow has been helping Dahl along this week, and Dahl says he'll be ready to go if called upon to play center in Tennessee Sunday.
Veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has been making an impact for Detroit ever since being elevated to the active roster from the practice squad a few weeks ago. He caught a touchdown pass on Thanksgiving, and has had an explosive catch of 20-plus yards in each of Detroit's last two contests.
"Really impressed with Mohamed," Bevell said Friday. "The thing I think you probably wouldn't notice as well is just his savviness in terms of playing the game. He has a great understanding of the game; he has a great feel.
"There's different kinds of guys that we talk about when we put a picture up there of what the play will look like. There's guys that are line runners, then there's guys that have the ability to interpret that line, and he's one of those that just has a really good feel, very friendly for the quarterback with the communication with the body language and that kind of thing. You kind of know exactly what he's going to do because he does the right thing."
Sanu came to Detroit late this year, and he has been able to jump right into the offense in a pretty seamless transition. It's a credit to his experience and feel for the game. Tennessee's defense is also allowing 273.6 passing yards per game, the fourth most in the NFL.
Wide receiver Kenny Golladay has been dealing with a muscle strain, which he said Friday was a hip flexor. He said he tweaked it when he was trying to come back a few weeks ago, and the injury has lingered.
"Still just trying to work myself back," he said. "It's still just not ready yet."
Golladay also said there is no truth that his contract situation is tied to him not practicing or playing.
Golladay, who is a free agent this offseason, said he wants to be here long term and would prefer a long-term deal be worked out once a new general manager is hired and the team gets to that point in the offseason. He said he'd prefer a new contract as opposed to the franchise tag.
"They drafted me here, so I just want to show my loyalty," Golladay said. "They believed in me. Say if a contract didn't work out, I'll go somewhere else and ball out and play, but like I said, I'm a loyal person and of course I want to be here."