Zach Line said he doesn’t know if he’ll play in the New Orleans Saints’ preseason game Saturday night against the Houston Texans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
All he knows is that he’s ready to play.
Of course, actually playing in a preseason game would be a significant change for Peterson, who, in 10 seasons as a running back and centerpiece of the Minnesota Vikings offense, became a highly protected commodity. Peterson rarely saw action before the regular season – he hasn’t played in a preseason game since 2011.
So it’s with a sizable amount of anticipation from Saints fans, and from Peterson, that the future Hall of Famer will line up in the backfield against the Texans, with whom the Saints held a joint practice Thursday at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. The teams will have a joint walk-through Friday in the Superdome.
“Starting this week, I’ve been having my mind set to play, that’s the mind-set I’ve been in,” he said. “I wasn’t in that mind-set last week. But being in the league for 10 years now, you know that normally around that third preseason game is when you’ll see some guys come out there. So if they call me to play, I’m going to go out there and do what I need to do.
“Of course (there’s anticipation), especially with the season approaching quickly. There’s a sense of urgency to get out there, but we’ll see how things play out.”
It seems likely that the playlist will include Peterson, the marquee name among the Saints’ offseason free agent signings.
The game-level inactivity has left him antsy for action.
“When you go in the weight room or you’re working out or you’re watching in these team drills, he’s got a bounce to his step,” Coach Sean Payton said. “Both he and Mark are itching to get in the preseason games and I think so far we’ve handled that well. We’ll try to get him some work here Saturday.”
Still, that hasn’t diminished the work that Peterson already has submitted during training camp and the offseason program.
“I feel like he approaches practice just like he does a game,” Brees said. “He’s very intense. He runs angry, he attacks the line of scrimmage.
“Never in a practice rep have I handed the ball off to him and had it feel any different. It is one speed all the time. He clicks in and when it’s time to play, it’s time to play regardless of whether it’s practice or a game.”
Peterson, indeed, says he is clicked in. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the go-ahead from his coaches.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “We’re kind of still in practice mode, we haven’t switched over to game mode. So I’m sure I’ll find out (Friday) or so.
“I’ve been practicing as if (I’m going to play), and my mind says that’s been the point. Whether I play or not, I don’t know yet but my mind says that’s the point.”
Peterson wanted to play in a preseason game last year, for the Vikings, but the idea was nixed.
“It’s funny because last year, after missing a whole season (in 2015), I was talking to (Vikings) Coach (Mike) Zimmer and kind of wanting to get out there, but it didn’t end up happening,” he said. “But I had talked to him about it.”
It’s unknown whether he has had a similar conversation with Payton. But Payton already possesses the most critical piece of information.
If the Saints want him to play, Peterson is ready.