Redskins' Peterson healthy scratch; Gruden defends decision

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career for Sunday's opener at the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I don't think I've kind of grasped it yet," Peterson told The Washington Post afterward.

"It's my first time ever being inactive, a healthy scratch. It was tough, of course. I'm a super competitor. ... So it was tough not being out there, so I just have to make the best out of the situation, and in that way, I just become a coach on the sideline. Helping the guys out as much as I could, and cheering for the guys as well."

Several of the team's veteran players were unhappy with the decision, according to an NFL Network report.

"On game day, we're punting to Darren Sproles about five or six times," head coach Jay Gruden told reporters afterward. "We need as many guys that can cover. We had to get the linebacker up for special teams, and obviously (fourth-string running back/special teamer Wendell) Smallwood. So it had to be done.

"If I can have the luxury of dressing four running backs or three, some other time if I have enough special team guys, I'll do that."

Gruden elaborated further, suggesting that sitting Peterson will be the norm moving forward.

"He's a first- and second-down back. So is Derrius (Guice)," Gruden said. "So, really, what do we have? About 20 first downs a game. Probably eight of those are passes, 12 of those might be runs, and Derrius can handle those 12 ...

"So if we have a game where we think we can run the ball 55 times in a game in an I-formation, then sure, I'll get him up."

Guice, a 2018 second-round draft pick who is healthy after missing his rookie season with a torn ACL, started Sunday and totaled 18 yards on 10 carries and 20 yards on three catches in the 32-27 loss. Chris Thompson -- listed behind Peterson on the depth chart but the team's top third-down back -- had seven catches for 68 yards and three carries for 10.

Peterson, 34, joined Washington after Guice's injury last August and rushed for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns while starting all 16 games, his most productive season since 2015. He re-signed with the Redskins on a two-year, $5.03 million deal this offseason.

Elsewhere Vernon Davis started at tight end, replacing Jordan Reed, who also was listed as inactive for the Week 1 game. Davis, 35, had four catches for 59 yards, including a highlight-reel, 48-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

--Field Level Media