Adrian Peterson on demotion in Lions backfield: What took so long?

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

For as frustrating as Adrian Peterson's performance has been the past two months, it's difficult to not respect the Detroit Lions running back's candor. 

Talking for the first time since he lost his starting job to rookie D'Andre Swift, the veteran and future Hall of Famer only had one question when the team informed him of the decision: What took so long? 

Adrian Peterson

"I understand the business of this business, that I'm part of, so in my mind, it never was anything that I did to lose a spot," Peterson said. "It was more so what this kid is doing and what we're doing offensively as far as play-calling. It made sense to me.

"Actually, when I was told, I was like, 'You guys shoulda did this two, three weeks ago,' you know? I'm here to try to win, that's my main objective. Of course I want to play. I'm a competitor."

Signed in September after he was released by the Washington Football Team, Peterson was quickly thrust into the starting role in Detroit, posting respectable numbers the first three games of the season.

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But for seven straight weeks, his efficiency declined, from 6.6 yards per carry to 1.4 in the team's loss to the Colts. After snapping that trend with a modest eight carries for 29 yards in a loss to the Vikings, the Lions finally pulled the trigger, making Swift the starter.

Position coach Kyle Caskey is quick to point out that even though Swift wasn't starting games earlier, he was already handling the majority of the work prior to the switch. 

"The question always is why did it take so long to figure it out or whatever the case may be, but if you look at snap counts, I mean yeah, Adrian started the games, but, really, D'Andre was taking the bulk of the snaps," Caskey said. "I do get that there's a process to that. Why don't you just do it? But, again, you've got to remember (Swift) didn't have an offseason, didn't have a preseason, missed all of training camp pretty much and there's a process to getting him up and ready for everything that's going to be thrown at him. It just felt right last week and felt like it was the time."

After last week's game, Swift has played 251 snaps to Peterson's 190 and Kerryon Johnson's 146. That ratio will obviously shift this week with Swift sidelined by a concussion.

That means Peterson will be back in the starting role, while Johnson should expect to see increased opportunities. 

"We've got to remember that Kerryon has had that role he's been in, but obviously Kerryon has done some of the stuff we've asked D'Andre to do," Caskey said. "D'Andre is a special talent, but Kerryon will fill that role as much as possible."