Peterson convincing himself to play

Adrian Peterson (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

Adrian Peterson said he tried to brainwash himself into playing Monday night, but he's pretty sure he won't need a similar method for Sunday night's game.

With Brett Favre most likely on the shelf for the rest of the season (and his career), the question running through the minds of Vikings fans (and coaches and players) is the condition of Adrian Peterson's ailing right thigh.

Peterson was the NFC's leading rusher as the Vikings took the field in Detroit for a de facto home game at Ford Field and the Vikings were ready to defend their Eastern Time Zone home turf with a steady diet of Peterson. With Favre's 297 games-played streak ending that night, it was going to be Peterson's show.

But, in a twist of fate somehow fitting the 2010 Vikings, with 2:20 to play in the first quarter, Peterson collided with backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Both went down in a heap. Jackson would go on injured reserve the next day and Peterson didn't play the next week.

As he returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, Peterson said he had some swelling in his thigh the next day, causing a contusion that made his quadriceps muscles very tight. He said the injury isn't one that is a risk for any long-term implications. He doesn't feel like he could do any further damage by pushing to get back in the lineup, because the problem is with a bruised muscle, not a bone or ligament. Potentially shutting it down for the final two games? According to A.D., that doesn't compute.

"That's not in my mind at all," Peterson said. "It's been a rollercoaster season. It hasn't gone the way we planned. But I love to play this game. That's why I do what I do. I definitely don't think that way about it. If I can play, I'll definitely be out there Sunday."

It begged the question: Did he think he was going to play last week? While Favre had been ruled out during the weekend heading into the Chicago game until the morning of the home finale, Peterson was expected to play, but, when the final walk-through practice came around Sunday and there was no improvement, that notion got dashed. Despite that, he still thought he would suit up. The mind was willing, but his body betrayed him.

"I think I always sort of brainwash myself – just keep the positive energy," Peterson said. "But, in the back of my head, it was like, ‘I don't know. I don't know.' I just kept trying to fight it. It got to Sunday and I attempted to run on it and I couldn't do it."

Peterson said it was difficult to watch Monday's game from the sidelines. He has never been the type to take a day off willingly and watching his teammates playing without him was more painful that the muscle aches in his thigh.

"It was tough, just being the type of competitor I am." Peterson said. "I wanted to be out there playing with my teammates. Not being able to participate, that was hard."

It would seem that Peterson isn't out of the woods just yet when it comes to making his return to the field. While he took part in Thursday's practice, in the portion open to the media he looked a little labored in his movements and he has yet to run at full speed. However, head coach Leslie Frazier said that the improvement in Peterson, while still being measured in baby steps, is markedly further along than it was earlier in the week when he had to sit out Monday's loss to the Bears.

"He was able to work out in practice and he made some improvement – dramatic improvement from say Monday to now," Frazier said. "Is it enough to get us to game day? We'll see. We have another day, so we'll see how he does (Friday). But, he's really improved from Monday, so we'll see if he takes another jump."

Whether he's once again brainwashing himself or if he is convinced that he will make it back Sunday by sheer perseverance, Peterson said that, when the bright lights blast on Sunday night, No. 28 will be out there showing that All Day can be an All Night performer as well.

"It's coming along well," Peterson said. "It's light years ahead of where it was last week. There's still a little tightness. I feel like I'll be overcome that."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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