Moore: Adrian Peterson won't be enough to spark Cardinals playoff run by himself

Newly acquired running back Adrian Peterson won't be able to get the Cardinals to the playoffs by himself.

The differences between Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson are easy to pick up.

CJ speaks softly and carries himself with a humble demeanor and posture. He shakes hands like you’re holding an egg he doesn’t want to break.

AP projects his voice and stands like a superhero on a movie poster. He shakes hands with such confidence that you feel it an hour later.

Johnson is inconspicuous. Peterson is impossible to overlook. And if this translates to the field, the Cardinals will have a shot at making the playoffs.

But before we put too much hope in a 32-year-old running back who for whatever reason wasn't the No. 1 option with the New Orleans Saints, a team with the league’s 29th-ranked rushing attack, consider that the Cardinals still have big problems, and Peterson won’t be able to solve them all — especially if they have to do with the offensive line.

“He doesn’t block,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday at the team facility in Tempe. “He just runs.”

A playoff berth remains a realistic goal.

The 34-7 loss to Philadelphia was bad, no doubt about it. Arians called it “embarrassing” but added “it doesn’t count any more if you lose by one or if you win by 20.”

He’s right. Bad losses happen in the NFL, but they’re often overcome.  

The 2008 Cardinals Super Bowl team lost 35-14 to the Minnesota Vikings — behind 165 yards from Peterson, coincidentally — and 47-7 to the New England Patriots in consecutive weeks in December. Then they went on a run that ended just short of a Super Bowl win.

And in 2015, the last time the big game was in Glendale, the Patriots won the championship despite taking a 41-14 spanking in Kansas City.

As it stands, the Cardinals are 2-3, just a game back from the Rams and Seahawks at the top of the NFC West. They have two games each against those teams and one more against the 49ers.

Aside from that, Tampa Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Washington and the New York Giants are a combined six games under .500.

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Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson talks with running backs coach Freddie Kitchens during practice on Tuesday. (Photo: Michael Chow/azcentral sports)

The Cardinals aren’t out of contention for a wild card or division title – especially if they get healthy and start to play their best football late in the season.

But it will come down to line play more than running-back play.

Aside from contributing to a league-worst rushing attack, the Cardinals’ offensive line hasn’t been able to protect Carson Palmer, who’s felt more pressure lately than a sumo’s sandals.

Palmer stood up for his blockers Wednesday, saying, “It’s easy to blame the offensive line, but it goes on everybody.

“It’s unfairly been thrown on a handful of guys.”

Noted, but I’ll stand by my criticism. This unit, which has been missing D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati, has contributed to a league-worst rushing attack, just 259 yards on 2.6 yards per carry, and has allowed Palmer to get hit a league-high 50 times.

There might be a lot of reasons for the ineffectiveness, but the results are what they are.

Chris Johnson didn't return a call to his agent seeking comment Wednesday, but said on Twitter that the problems in the run game were bigger than just him.

David Johnson also refused to criticize the line play after I told him that I thought it's been so poor that it wouldn’t matter who carried the ball.

“I really can’t say much about the offensive line, especially since I haven’t been playing,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what’s going on there. All I can do is speak for what I can do, and the running backs.”

Johnson said his dislocated wrist is healing and that “rehab is going great. Just got my cast. … so we’ll see how it goes.”

He said he hopes to be ready for a playoff run: “Definitely want to have them hopefully win out and give a chance for me to come back.”

The injured MVP-threat is excited about Peterson. 

“He’s a physical runner,” Johnson said. “He’s always been known as a physical runner, so that’s exactly what he’s going bring is that physicality.”

It’s exactly the quality that Arians liked when he talked with General Manager Steve Keim about going after Peterson, calling him a “violent runner who still has it.”

Arians also hopes the line gets stronger.

“I would hope our offensive-line issues are a little better than they were the last few games for our runners with D.J. and Alex (Boone) hopefully playing,” he said. “I would hope there’d be more opportunities.”

Palmer sees a chance for Peterson to help.

“As far as how Adrian affects the offensive-line play, you put a guy who’s done what he’s done in this league back there, I think guys get excited,” he said. “Guys come off the ball and know that if they get just enough of an edge or create just enough of a seam that he can hit it.

“When a guy like that walks in the door, there’s a little more pep in everybody’s step.”

Seems reasonable. We'll see Sunday.

 

 

 

 

Reach Moore at gmoore@azcentral.com or 602-444-6295. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/WritingMoore.

moore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 2 Arizona Cardinals long snapper Justin Drescher (49) waits for a play during practice at the team's training facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 11, 2017.  Michael Chow/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 3 Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson talks with running backs coach Freddie Kitchens during practice at the team's training facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 11, 2017.  Michael Chow/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 4 Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians watches Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson (23) walk to practice at the team's training facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 11, 2017.  Michael Chow/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 5 Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) and wide receiver J.J. Nelson (14) waits for a punt during special teams practice at the team's training facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 11, 2017.  Michael Chow/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 6 Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians watches special teams practice at the team's training facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 11, 2017.  Michael Chow/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 7 Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) walks out to practice at the team's training facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 11, 2017.  Michael Chow/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 8 Arizona Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams (33) fields a punt during practice at the team's training facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 11, 2017.  Michael Chow/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 9 Cardinals John Brown (12) talks with teammates during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 10 Cardinals John Brown (12) catches passes during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 11 Cardinals John Brown (12) catches passes during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 12 Cardinals Phil Dawson (4) kicks field goals during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 13 Cardinals Carlos Dansby (56) runs during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 14 Cardinals Chandler Jones (55) jokes with teammates during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 15 Cardinals Tramon Williams (25) wears his hood up at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 16 Cardinals Tyvon Branch (27) jokes with teammates on the sidelines at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 17 Cardinals Antoine Bethea (41) puts his helmet on during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 18 Cardinals Brandon Williams (26) walks back to the sidelines during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 19 Cardinals special teams runs on a kickoff during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 20 Cardinals Phil Dawson (4) kicks off during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 21 Cardinals Chanlder Jones (55) peaks as he covers his eyes while catching footballs on the sidelines at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 22 Cardinals Chandler Jones (55) throws a football to teammates on the sidelines during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 23 Cardinals Chandler Jones (55) throws a football to teammates on the sidelines during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 24 Cardinals Patrick Peterson warms up on the sidelines during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 25 Cardinals Patrick Peterson warms up on the sidelines during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 26 Cardinals Kerwynn Williams (33) runs back a kickoff during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 27 Cardinals Kerwynn Williams (33) runs back a kickoff during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 28 Cardinals Kerwynn Williams (33) runs back a kickoff during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 29 Cardinals Brittan Golden (10) runs back a kickoff during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 30 Cardinals Deone Bucannon (20) looks on from the sidelines during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 31 Cardinals Patrick Peterson warms up on the sidelines during practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 32 Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald (11) and Carson Palmer (3) take to the dome for practice at the Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Ariz. on October 5, 2017.  Patrick Breen/The Republicmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 33 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer,left, talks with quarterback Drew Stanton during practice in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 34 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton catches a ball during practice in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 35 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton, right, throws the ball to quarterback Blaine Gabbert, left, during practice in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 36 Arizona Cardinals offensive linemen D.J. Humphries, left, (74) and Will Holden, (69) collide during practice as Jared Veldheer, (68) upper left, and Vinston Painter, (78) upper right, watch in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 37 Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians watches practice from the end zone in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 38 Arizona Cardinals offensive linemen Will Holden, (69), left, and D.J. Humphries, (74) prepare to collide during practice as Vinston Painter, (78) upper left, and Jared Veldheer, (68) upper right, watch in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 39 Arizona Cardinals offensive linemen Will Holden, (69), third from left, and D.J. Humphries, (74) right, collide during practice as Vinston Painter, (78) upper left, and Jared Veldheer, (68) second from left, watch in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 40 Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, left, and offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, (74) right, talk in the endzone of the bubble during practice at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 41 Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, left, and offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, (74) right, talk in the endzone of the bubble during practice at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 42 Arizona Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon walks the sidelines in the bubble during practice at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 43 Arizona Cardinals linebackers Deone Bucannon, left and Karlos Dansby wait on the sidelines in the bubble during practice at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 44 Arizona Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams runs back a punt in the bubble during practice at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 45 Arizona Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams runs back a punt in the bubble during practice at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 46 Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, (74) , left, comes in to practice in the bubble at the training facility in Tempe, Friday, September 29, 2017.  Tom Tingle/azcentral sportsmoore-adrian-peterson-wont-be-enough-to-spark-cardinals-playoff-run-by-himself photo 47 Arizona Cardinal

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