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Cards' Peterson steps into starting role

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Adrian Peterson knew something was up Tuesday morning when a friend sent him a text that read "Text 911."

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"It was kind of strange," the veteran running back said. "I just kept looking at my phone and the next text was, 'You got traded to Arizona.' I got excited. You hear rumors and stuff like that so I didn't know for sure. I'm turning the TV on and I'm checking Twitter and Instagram on my phone and sure enough, there it goes.

"I turn the TV on and they're breaking news. It was like, 'Thank you, Jesus.' He answers prayers."

With their running game ranked last in the league and averaging just 51.8 yards per game, the Cardinals were in need of a 911 call of their own. That's why they orchestrated a trade with the Saints and agreed to send a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft to New Orleans for Peterson, a three-time NFL rushing champion.

Peterson, 32, leaves his spot as the No. 3 running back with the Saints to become the new No. 1 tailback option for the Cardinals, who figured they had nothing to lose and everything to gain -- like some much-needed rushing yards.

Peterson will start Sunday's game against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, replacing fellow veteran Chris Johnson, who was released.

"We'll plug him in," Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said. "He knows football, so it's just a matter of learning numbers and words. We'll get him taught that and get going. He'll be ready to go."

Peterson said he never asked the Saints to trade him. He just wanted a chance to play considering he was only averaging 6.75 snaps per game since joining New Orleans.

"I wasn't pushing to be moved, but I'd be lying to you to say that I didn't want a change in scenery after four weeks, seeing how things played out," he said. "So, yeah, it was something that I was praying about. 'Hey God, I need you to answer this prayer for me. Are you listening to me?' But, in the midst of that, I was still in tune and locked in (with the Saints)."

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said the addition of Peterson should do a lot for an Arizona team struggling to find its way at 2-3. For starters, it immediately brings a boost to morale inside the locker room.

"If you sign a future Hall of Famer, there's always a little pep in everyone's step, I would think," he said.

Peterson, though, should be able to do much more than just lift his new team's spirits, Palmer said, adding, "I just think he adds that extra dimension. He can run away from defenders; he can run through defenders. He runs violently. He runs behind his pads. He's a threat, obviously. He's been a threat since his first day in this league. I think the big picture is that he's a guy that can rip one off and run away from defensive backs, and he can run through defensive backs."

SERIES HISTORY: 20th regular-season meeting. Cardinals lead series, 10-9. Arizona crushed Tampa Bay last season in Glendale, Ariz., 40-7, behind three touchdown passes from Carson Palmer and four interceptions by the Cardinals' defense, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Prior to that game, the previous eight contests were all decided by a single score with five decided by four points or fewer.

--Running back Chris Johnson was released for a second time this season and although the veteran only averaged 2.5 yards per carry through four games, it was tough for head coach Bruce Arians to see him cut twice.

"It's tough, because I really love the guy," Arians said. "I hated the way it happened, before I got a chance to talk to him."

--Last month, Chris Johnson tweeted that Peterson needed more touches with the Saints. On Tuesday, Johnson not only learned that he had been cut in favor of Peterson, but that Peterson would be wearing his jersey No. 23.

Johnson reacted to the trade on Twitter after reading what many were saying about him and Arizona's anemic rushing attack.

"I would go back n forth with ya'll," he wrote, "but if ya'll watch the game and ya'll feel like I was the root of the problem ya'll have to be clueless!!"

--Long snapper Justin Drescher, who spent the past seven seasons with the Saints and snapped in 102 regular-season games and five postseason games, was signed to a free-agent contract on Tuesday. Drescher replaces Aaron Brewer, who was lost for the season last Sunday when he suffered a fractured wrist against Philadelphia.

"He's been in the league before, so we feel very, very comfortable," head coach Bruce Arians said of Drescher.

--"I have so much left. I'd love to play at least four to five more years, God willing. I have a lot left in the tank. So, stay tuned. Stay tuned and you guys will be able to see that firsthand." - Adrian Peterson.

--Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 14,716 career receiving yards and needs 16 more on Sunday against the visiting Buccaneers to surpass Steve Smith (14,731) for seventh-most in NFL history.

--Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby raised some eyebrows during his last stint with the Cardinals when he said the league was short-changing him on his number of solo tackles. He tried not to make too big a stink over it, but said it did bother him. The veteran said "it's water under the bridge," but then added that it's happening to him again.

"They haven't been counting some of them, but I'm going to force their hand, though," Dansby said. "I'm going to make sure they see me on that film and I'm going to force their hand. They don't have to count them now, but after a while, you'll have no choice but to count them."

Asked how many tackles he figures haven't been credited to him after five games, Dansby said: "I'm not sure. But I'm flying around, man. I'm trying to get to that ball and do my part. If I'm there to make a tackle, I need to make it. Guys count on me to do that. We're making sure we don't let each other down."

--Quarterback Carson Palmer, who has passed for 300 or more yards in six consecutive home games, needs one touchdown pass to move ahead of Hall of Famer Warren Moon (291) and into 12th place on the league's all-time list.

NOTRES: LG Earl Watford graded out fairly well against the Eagles for a player signed off the street the same week he made his first start of the season. Watford, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Cardinals before leaving as a free agent this past offseason, got the start because of injuries to Mike Iupati and Alex Boone. "Earl didn't play that bad," head coach Bruce Arians said. "He had the one pressure, or one sack, but for just coming off the street, he didn't play that bad." ... G/T Givens Price was re-signed to the team's practice squad on Wednesday. He replaces rookie guard Dorian Johnson, who was signed to the active roster of the Houston Texans. Johnson was a fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh and initially was seen as the team's future starting right guard. He never was able to push for the role, however, and was outplayed in training camp and the preseason by second-year pro Evan Boehm. "He struggled in pass protection and we saw progress, but not the speed that we would have liked to add him on the active roster," head coach Bruce Arians said of Johnson. ... LT D.J. Humphries (knee) and LG Alex Boone (pectoral strain) are both expected to practice when the team gets after it in full pads on Thursday and if all goes well the rest of the week, they could return to the starting lineup Sunday against visiting Tampa Bay. "It's going to be huge," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "The tough part about it now is that they haven't played next to each other, which is so important up there. Chemistry and all the things that come with playing next to a guy for a year, or six weeks, or practicing Thursday or Friday is what it's going to be this week. It's difficult. It's a tough thing to do, but those guys are all in, and they're excited about the chance to play next to each other."

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