D’Andre Swift still has a few things to learn about being an NFL player.
For instance, he needs to learn how to take care of his dirty laundry. Especially when it’s a milestone keepsake.
After he rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 34-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Detroit Lions rookie running back went to the locker room and began taking off his uniform. Adrian Peterson sat nearby and noticed something.
“He took his jersey off and threw it down on the ground and the equipment guys came and picked it up,” Peterson said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “ I was like, ‘Hey, man, you have to make sure they save that jersey for you, man. It’s the first 100-yard jersey right there. You’ve got to make sure you collect that one.’ ”
It’s hard to blame Swift, a second-round pick from Georgia. Almost any 21-year-old caught up in the post-victory euphoria of an NFL locker room might not have game souvenirs at the forefront of his thoughts. But Peterson was right. NFL running backs ascribe special important to the first time they top the century mark.
“It means a lot, you know?” Peterson said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve arrived.’ So it’s a confidence boost. It makes you realize, ‘Hey, you know, I can do this. I can do this on this level that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a youngster.’
“When he was 5, 6 years old, he had dreams of playing in the National Football League. So to accomplish that, to get his first 100-yard game, that’s a milestone that he always remember that.”
Peterson is the likely Hall of Fame-bound veteran in the Lions’ running back room and didn’t join the Lions until Sept. 6, but even in that short time he has noticed that Swift has taken “tremendous steps in improving his game and becoming more of a professional.”
“Just mentally I can see that mentally he’s becoming stronger,” Pederson said. “He’s more in shape now as well, and that comes with playing no preseason or anything like that. So getting a really good full game last weekend, seeing how he was able to power through and grind it out. It’s a lot for a young guy to really try to carry the load.”
Swift’s 14 carries were by far his most this season. And he provided the highlight of the game — if not of the Lions’ season so far — when he ran for 54 yards on his first carry of the game.
It was the breakout performance Lions’ fans had been waiting for from the heralded rookie. But it wasn’t a surprise to Pederson, who has keenly watched the development of the youngster.
“And then being around him in practice and watching him practice when I first got here compared to seeing him practice now, here in the last couple weeks,” Pederson said, “different things that I noticed that he’s doing different as far as being more patient, getting vertical, taking on the safeties, conditioning-wise, finishing down the field. So you see him developing mentally and showing physically as well.”
As for Swift’s laundry, Pederson sees a lot more of those 100-yard jerseys piling up.
“Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah,” he said. “Like I said, he’s very talented, he’s a hard worker, a smart player, he picks up things extremely fast and he has the ability to accomplish anything he puts his mind towards.
“If he continues to work and take the steps that I’ve seen him take since I’ve been here he’ll be able to accomplish a lot of things.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Adrian Peterson: ‘Tremendous steps’ for D’Andre Swift