Adrian Peterson (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)
Adrian Peterson wants to return to game action as soon as possible, but he said a patient approach is best. That isn’t deterring him from his long-stated goal of playing in the regular-season opener.
Adrian Peterson had to be patient in getting back on the field. Now he’s hoping he can use that same approach to his running style when he finally does play in a game.
The Minnesota Vikings running back returned to practice last week on his road back from Dec. 30 surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, and the team had discussed using him in a preseason game. On Tuesday, head coach Leslie Frazier confirmed that wouldn’t happen, but the goal is still for Peterson to be available for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Once he’s back on the field, he hopes he has the ability to let the blocks set up in front of him.
“The biggest challenge? Just being patient. Just being patient because I’ll be looking forward to just getting out there, man. I’m just so anxious,” Peterson said. “Just staying calm and staying in my element and just letting the game flow and come to me is going to be the most important thing.”
Despite his hard-charging desire to get back in action, Peterson said he was on the same page with the organization’s decision to hold him out of preseason action, saying everyone was in agreement and his goal remains the same: play in Week 1.
“I’ve been preaching to myself. I’ve been repeating and trying to brainwash myself, teaching patience, patience, patience,” Peterson said. “Because the last couple weeks I really haven’t been hearing the things I wanted to hear, so I have to be patient. Patient. But I’m understanding it, man, and we’re on the same page. … I’m just going to be patient and continue to do what I can do to make sure that I’m able to reach that goal.”
Last year was the first time in Peterson’s five-year career that he didn’t eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark. After missing three games with an ankle injury, his torn knee ligaments in the second-to-last game halted his production at 970 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, along with 19 receptions for 139 yards and another touchdown.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the final step to getting Peterson in a game is to start allowing his defensive teammates contact on him in practices. That probably won’t happen until at least next week, but, once again, Peterson is anxious.
“I want a lot of it,” he said about taking contact. “It’ll be good for me, so I’m just excited to see how I feel when I get hit or to run over somebody just to get back physical. I’m a physical running back so I want to get that contact.”
So far, Peterson said there haven’t been any big hurdles he was relieved to clear in rehabilitation and there is no pain in the knee, only soreness in surrounding muscles while lifting and trying to get his muscles to “wake up.”
While he knows he will have to regain a feel for seeing the cutback lane that makes elite running backs effective, showing he can be a reliable blocker on blitzes is also part of the comeback.
“That’s something that I’ll have to get back used to, as far as technique and not going out there trying to bull rush a guy or getting too anxious,” Peterson said. “You always get better with reps. Practice makes perfect. So it’ll be something that I’ll pick up with. We’ve got some good linebackers, and they’re looking forward to giving me some good work, especially with how much I’ve been talking to them. So they’ll be looking forward to seeing me out there.”
He’s fully confident that will happen for the Sept. 9 opener.
“I’d be cheating myself if said 95 percent or 85 percent,” he said. “That’s not the way I think.”
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.