Adrian Peterson (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)
Adrian Peterson is seeing progress in his surgically repaired left knee nearly every week, making him confident he’ll be ready for the season opener and now even talking about participating on a limited basis at training camp.
Adrian Peterson knows there is a balance between his strong competitive drive and being smart in rehabilitating his knee after surgery Dec. 31 to repair torn anterior and medical collateral ligaments.
Still, Peterson isn’t ready to yield to lists that distinguish him as incapable, the “physically unable to perform,” whether those designations are at the start of the regular season or at the start of training camp.
Taking part in the Vikings’ biggest charity event as far as participation – the annual playground build for disadvantaged schools and charities in the Twin Cities area – Peterson said Thursday he see himself being able to participate in some activities at the start of training camp. The first training camp practice on the campus of Minnesota State University in Mankato is July 27.
“I imagine myself getting strong and doing a lot on the side. I also imagine myself being able to get out there and be involved some, too,” Peterson said. “That’s my imagination.”
Peterson has been spending a lot of time in Minnesota this offseason working with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman on strength and agility exercise for his knee. This week, he spent time running hills, doing balance and stability drills and worked on his lateral agility shuffling back and forth in a sand pit while Sugarman rolled a soccer ball to Peterson’s left and right.
He sees improvement in just the last few weeks.
“Being more explosive with my cutting and my lateral movement. I’m getting more full range … enabling me to pull and get a good follow-through,” he said. “I’m starting to get my flexibility all the way back in my left knee. I feel that improving, but things are coming along well.
“… I’m definitely confident (about being ready for the season opener). I’ve been working hard to get back as soon as possible. It’s all about just being patient, continuing to do what I’m doing. We’ll see what happens.”
This week, Peterson has had a rehabilitation buddy, as the other big playmaker in the Vikings offense, Percy Harvin, returned to Minnesota after shoulder surgery on April 24. Harvin isn’t participating fully in practices yet, but Wednesday he was going through some of the same conditioning drills as Peterson.
The two competed running up a hill near the Vikings’ practice fields and felt the competition with each other.
“It was good to be out there with him and for us to be able to push each other because we both hate to lose,” Peterson said. “I was definitely talking words to him when I was out there. The first couple of times he got me and I was like, ‘Percy, you know I’m trying to be beat you every time.’ He was like, ‘I know AP, I know.’ I actually got him a couple times. It’s all fun, but it’s preparing me to push to the next level.”
Peterson said his lateral skills are getting better, and shortly after his surgery, Sugarman said Peterson has the DNA to be able to make it back for the 2012 season. Now, five months after the surgery, Peterson said other tests cases don’t mean a thing in his rehabilitation timeline.
“I don’t study other people. People heal differently,” he said. “If I listened to all the critics, I’d be out a year and a half, two years. I’m just doing my thing. I put my faith in God and he’s been carrying me through so far.”
While he tries to stay focused on each day of rehabilitation, he knows that training camp will soon be upon him.
“I’m conscious of it,” he said. “I know it’s coming around soon, but I’m just worrying about what I can right now and that’s doing my rehab and taking care of my body and trying to get this leg as strong as possible to be able to participate during training camp.”
The next step?
“Just becoming more explosive and that comes with getting more strength in his this leg and being able to cut the way I want,” he said. “I think here soon I’ll be able to be as explosive as I was before.”
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.