When Bo Scarbrough isn’t busy running the ball for the Detroit Lions Sunday, he’ll have a chance to watch Adrian Peterson carrying the ball for the Washington Redskins.
Good timing and opportunity -- and good results by Scarbrough in his first NFL game last week – have put Scarbrough on the field in the same game with Peterson, the future Hall of Famer he grew up idolizing.
“Adrian Peterson was one of my favorite running backs,” Scarbrough said this week. “I was an Oklahoma fan at the same time he was playing for Oklahoma.
“Adrian Peterson was my idol. I wanted to mimic my game after him. I liked the way he runs. He runs tough. He runs strong. He runs with that mindset – ‘If you’re in the way, you’re going to get it.’”
At 6-2 and 235 pounds, Scarbrough doesn’t back down from contact?
“Nah,” he said. “Not at all.”
Scarbrough, a productive power runner in three seasons at Alabama (2015-17), gave the Lions’ offense a spark in his first pro game. He carried 14 times for 55 yards, with a long run of 23 yards and a five-yard blast through the right side of the line for a touchdown on the Lions’ first possession.
It was quite a debut for Scarbrough. He was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 6, promoted to the active roster the day before the Dallas game and told two hours before kickoff he was going to start.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has patched together a running game without a true lead back since Kerryon Johnson went on injured reserve with a knee injury sustained in the sixth game, a loss to the Vikings.
The Lions have averaged 103 yards rushing in the last three games, with a high of 121 against the Cowboys.
Obviously, Scarbrough has more to prove, but it was a promising start.
“I thought he played super physical,” said quarterback Jeff Driskel. “Rarely did you see the first guy that made contact with him bring him down.
“I thought he just brought a really physical presence to the game.
Stats match: In the Redskins’ last four games they have averaged a net of 117 yards passing per game with 17 sacks, two TD passes and two interceptions.
In the Lions’ last four games they’ve given up an a net average of 287 yards per game, nine sacks, 12 TD passes and no interceptions.
Bottom line: An opportunity for the Lions to improve their passing defense stats.
Series history: The Lions have a four-game winning streak against Washington and have won six of the last nine games. Washington has a 27-14 series lead in the regular season and is 3-0 in the postseason.
First for Matthew Stafford: His first career win was 19-14 over the Redskins in Week 3 of his 2009 rookie season. Stafford completed 21 of 36 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown.
Barry Sanders history: He ran 51 yards for the Lions’ only touchdown in a 30-7 loss to the Redskins in game 10 of the 1997 season. It was the Redskins’ first season in their new stadium, after leaving venerable RFK Stadium.
Sanders finished with 105 yards, extending his streak of 100-yard rushing games to eight. He went on to have 14 straight 100-yard rushing games and finished with 2,053 yards for the season. The Lions won five of their last six games after the loss to Washington to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Redskins focus – AP: Peterson isn’t the dynamic force he was when he terrorized the Lions and other NFC North teams for 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings, but his presence still has to be accounted for even as the Redskins could be turning to younger, fresher legs.
The Lions saw him at his best when he won three rushing titles, with a career high of 2,097 yards in 2012.
“I’ve had some great battles with him throughout the years,” said Lions head coach Matt Patricia. “Even just turning on the tape this week and watching him and what he’s able to do still at a high level is pretty amazing.”
Peterson departed Minnesota after the 2016 season and is in his second season with the Redskins after splitting time with the Cardinals and Saints in 2017.
Peterson had his eighth 1,000-yard season last year, with 1,042 yards for the Redskins in his 12th season at the age of 33 while starting all 16 games for first time since 2015. He has 514 yards with six games left, making him a long shot to hit 1,000 again.
He has a pair of 100-yard games -- 108 vs. Miami and 118 vs. the Bills – and the way he has fought through injuries to play and start nine of the 10 games has impressed interim head coach Bill Callahan.
“I’ve seen him go through so many different injuries since I’ve been here,” Callahan told reporters earlier this week. “Seemingly one week he has maybe a calf or a thigh or a hip or an elbow. By game day, he gets himself ready mentally to overcome the injuries he has.
“He’s rare. He’s one of a kind.”
Prediction: A must win for the Lions – if only to avoid the fallout of losing to one of the NFL’s two worst teams. The Lions have been in games. The Redskins haven’t. They’re a perfect opponent for the Lions to end their three-game losing streak before playing the Bears on Thanksgiving Day.
Pick: Lions 27, Redskins 10.