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Adrian Peterson signs one-year deal with Lions after being released by Washington

“They’re giving me an opportunity to play,” he told Josina Anderson Sunday morning. “I know coach Bevell from my days in Minnesota. Ultimately I feel comfortable going there and helping them to get better.”

The decision to cut Peterson was a surprise for the running back, who has run for more than 14,000 yards in 13 seasons, until he heard Coach Ron Rivera’s first words during a meeting Friday.

“Just normal routine — did my tests, went in and talked to him, and he was just like, ‘This is always tough,’ ” Peterson said. “When he said that, already I knew what it was. One thing you don’t want to hear is ‘This is always tough.’ ”

In two seasons in Washington, the 35-year-old Peterson had rushed for 1,940 yards, scoring 12 touchdowns, in 31 games. In camp in Rivera’s first season, he had noticed that he was getting fewer reps.

“But when the ones were called up or we did our team practice at the stadium, I was up with the ones and did two minute [drills] and all that,” he said. “So it was shocking to me, to say the least. It was shocking because I just didn’t see that sign of it being, ‘Okay, you’re going to be released.’ Maybe a diminished role within the offense. Maybe some games you’re used more, 15, 16 carries or whatever.

“But I didn’t expect to be released.”

The 2012 NFL MVP after a season in which he rushed for 2,097 yards with the Vikings, Peterson trails the Lions’ Hall of Fame runnings back in total yardage by 1,053 yards, a mark that may well fall with Peterson’s reunion with Bevell. Sanders is fourth on the all-time rushing list and Peterson is fifth. Rivera took all of that into consideration in making his decision and now will get to face Peterson when Washington plays Detroit Nov. 15 in Ford Field.

“I went through a lot of conversations the last day and really late [Thursday] came to the conclusion that this was the direction we were going to head,” Rivera said Friday. “This is not about what he hasn’t done or anything like that. It’s about what this group of backs has shown us, especially in the way the offense is headed. And that’s really what it’s all about. Adrian is a true pro. I was fortunate to just be here with him this summer.

“It’s tough because I know this guy is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

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