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Jay Gruden explains decision to bench Adrian Peterson in Week 1

Jay Gruden opened up this week about his decision to make Adrian Peterson a healthy scratch in the Washington Redskins’ season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, which arguably was among the biggest surprises of Week 1.

During his weekly interview with NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay, Gruden made it clear it was a tough call to make, but insisted it was best for the team. Finlay asked Gruden to characterize his discussion with Peterson when he informed the former NFL MVP that he would be benched.

It’s not easy. Adrian was on a couple of teams before we got him. It’s hard sometimes to dress two backs on first down, two first down backs,” Gruden said, as transcribed by NBC Sports Washington. “You have to have guys who different things. You have to have a third-down back. Sometimes it’s Chris Thompson, somebody else got to play third down. Somebody has to help on special teams. It’s hard to get everybody up on a 46-man roster…

So it was a tough decision, something you never want to do, especially with Adrian Peterson,” Gruden continued. “It’s one game. We could dress them all next week and the week after that. So we’ll just address it next week. But this week, with Darren Sproles back there on punts and on the road, we thought it was important to really have the coverage unit in place.

Derrius Guice is expected to miss several weeks with a meniscus injury, which opens up the door to Peterson’s return to the lineup. Gruden insists he has no problem with that, calling the two backs “1 and 1a” in his view.

“If something happens and Derrius can’t go, we’re happy to play AP and not even bat an eye,” Gruden added.

Gruden’s decision to make Peterson a healthy scratch came amid earlier reports he wanted to cut the veteran running back but was overruled by Redskins brass. It certainly makes for an awkward situation for a team that scarcely needs one.