Jerome Bettis, a running back who defied father time far longer than others, thinks Adrian Peterson still has "it."
"Oh, he definitely still has it," Bettis said in an interview on NFL Network's Up To The Minute on Monday. "We gotta look at a running back in a little different light. People look at in terms of age. You gotta look at running backs in terms of carries. I think when a running back gets to around 3,000 carries, that's when you've got to be worried about their longevity in terms of being able to produce. He's a lot under that. He's in the 2,600, 2,700 range. So he's got another two or three really good seasons left in him. But I think it's gonna be the right team because if he goes to a team and they want Adrian Peterson of four years ago, you're not gonna get that same football player. But he can still come out and give you some great effort, so I think the right team has to want Adrian Peterson."
"I think they can be (the right team) because they're not gonna over utilize him in terms of running the football," Bettis said. "They want to run the football, but they're gonna be games during the course of the season that the Patriots say 'You know what? We're not gonna run the football that much. We're gonna throw it around.' They come out every week with a different gameplan so that will bode well for Adrian Peterson because when he does get the football, you know what to expect from him. He's gonna be downhill in a hurry."
Bettis' opinion is worthwhile if only because he reached a Pro Bowl in 2004 after 3,119 career carries. In that age-32 season, Bettis carried the ball an astounding 250 times for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Of course, Bettis never had to overcome the type of season-erasing injuries that have pocked the recent years of Peterson's career. The Hall of Famer never played in fewer than 12 games per season and converted into a completely unique back down the final stretch of his career. If all the medical checks out, maybe the Patriots will move forward on the hope that Peterson can mold himself to the system.