Adrian Peterson (Patrick Smith/Getty)
The Vikings coaching and medical staff expect Adrian Peterson to return for the first game of the 2012 season, despite two torn ligaments and other damage to his left knee.
Head coach Leslie Frazier and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman listed the damages to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s left knee – torn anterior cruciate ligament, torn medial collateral ligament, some damage to the medial and lateral meniscus – and yet remained optimistic that he would be available for the opening game of 2012.
“His work ethic, his desire, his genetics, and if there is anybody that can make it back from this and be as good as they were before, it would be Adrian Peterson,” Frazier said.
“He’ll be the guy that people will look at and say, ‘Wow, look at Adrian Peterson. He’s just as good or better than he was before the surgery.’”
Peterson suffered the injury on the first play from scrimmage in the second half of Saturday’s game when Redskins safety DeJon Gomes tackled him at the end of a 3-yard run. The direct hit to the outside of Peterson’s knee caused it to buckle and Peterson immediately started hitting the ground in pain.
Sugarman was encouraged that Peterson had no cartilage damage and showed no injury to his lateral collateral ligament or posterior cruciate ligament. He, too, cited Peterson’s work ethic when laying out an optimistic timeframe.
“We expect most people to recover from this injury in eight to nine months, and instead of comparing Adrian to any other player at any level that’s had an anterior cruciate ligament – and they happen every day – I would really like Adrian to stand on his own merit because Adrian, I feel, is very unique,” Sugarman said. “If there’s anyone that’s going to be able to recover from this injury, it’s Adrian Peterson. You may ask why. It’s because Adrian has a great work ethic.”
“Adrian has the DNA to heal quickly, which he has shown in the past. He certainly will have the desire and the mental toughness to be able to get through the rehab process, which will take months and months, as you know. So, I think if anyone can get better quickly and safely in that time period, it would be Adrian Peterson.”
The Vikings expect Peterson to conduct his rehabilitation in Minnesota.
Peterson had 12 carries for 38 yards when he left. He also had a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. It was Peterson’s second game back after missing three contests because of a high ankle sprain in his left ankle. His season is finished with 970 yards rushing, the first time in his five-year career that he won’t reach the 1,000-yard mark.
Peterson said after the game he knew “it was something bad” when he felt “severe pain” at the end of the 3-yard run.
“Anytime you take a blow to the knee like that, you’re concerned about the ACL, MCL,” Peterson said as he stood on crutches in the locker room after the game. “I’m trying to stay as positive as I can.”
Peterson was at the Vikings’ Winter Park practice facility Monday, but wasn’t available to reporters.
“One of the things that Adrian had mentioned to Eric and others to the fans to just stay positive because he’s going to remain positive. Keep him in his prayers,” Frazier said. “He felt like that would really help as he is working towards getting back on the field next season. He is extremely optimistic, positive. Even in the midst of rehab ahead of him, he is extremely positive about being able to come back and be as good or better than he was before.”
Toby Gerhart had the first 100-yard game of his career in relief of Peterson, rushing for 109 yards on 11 carries. Rookie Caleb King, an undrafted rookie who spent the first 15 games on the practice squad after signing there on Sept. 5, will likely be elevated to the 53-man roster, Frazier said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.