Adrian Peterson (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)
Adrian Peterson said he is ready for whatever role the Vikings have waiting for him, but he’s hoping that’s not sitting out. Leslie Frazier said Peterson is being given different duty this week to test him, but a final decision won’t be made until Friday night or Saturday, Frazier said.
The burning question that remains on the minds of Vikings fans everywhere is whether Adrian Peterson will be on the field Sunday when the Vikings open the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Almost from the moment Peterson had his knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL, Sept. 9 has been a target date that is now less than 72 hours away.
Neither Peterson nor Vikings coach Leslie Frazier would commit to whether or not he will be given the green light, despite indications from offensive coordinator that Peterson is ready. The star running back is still targeting Sunday for his return to the field – less than 8½ months after suffering the injury at FedEx Field in suburban Washington D.C.
“I feel good,” Peterson said. “I’ve been working hard since the injury to get back to this moment. Me and the coaching staff are on the same page when I come out – if I get the nod to go.”
The same page doesn’t mean that Peterson and Frazier are in lockstep when it comes to the decision whether or not to allow him to play. Peterson has been lobbying Frazier to get on the field. At times he has agreed – activating him from the physically unable to perform list a week into training. At times he hasn’t – Peterson wanted to play in the preseason, but Frazier didn’t allow it. The same page this time around is setting the stage to get him back on the field, which remains a decision that won’t be made until Friday or Saturday, according to Frazier, a bit of an amendment from earlier in the week when Frazier said it would be a “game-time decision.”
“I think we’d know Saturday where things are. I don’t think we’d go work him out pregame to see if he’s ready to play,” Frazier said Thursday. “We’d have a good idea after we get through with Friday where he stands.”
Peterson said he had trust in the coaching staff to make the right decision, but he also has a gut feeling as to whether or not he will play against the Jaguars. Ultimately, though, he understands the final decision isn’t his … not by a long shot.
“(I have) somewhat (of a feeling), but I’m below (on the decision-making chart),” Peterson said. “I’ve got Coach Frazier. I’ve got the owner. There are a lot of people that are really calling the shots. All that I can do is control my part and I’ve been doing that this week.”
Sept. 9 has been a day burned in Peterson’s mind since he started to rehab his surgically repaired knee and, while he has had more than his share of detractors and doubters, there has never been any question in his mind that he would be ready when the gun sounds to start the new season.
“I haven’t had any doubts,” Peterson said. “That’s not how I’m programmed. That’s not the way to accomplish things – to have doubts. I’ve been all positive and keeping my eye focused in on what I said I wanted to accomplish.”
The biggest problem Peterson has endured during his rehab hasn’t been the pain, it’s been the team’s medical staff and coaches pulling back on the reins to keep him from doing too much and risk a potential setback. For a player who gives his full effort all the time, being told to take it slow hasn’t been easy.
‘It’s been tough,” Peterson said. “But, ultimately, I knew these guys are doing what’s best for me. I know how I am – I kind of get ahead of myself at times. They did a good job of being patient with me and working with me.”
Peterson was asked if he feels he is setting an example for his teammates that will suffer injuries themselves. Peterson believes each player is different, but he said it has been his faith that has carried him through the difficult times over the first eight months of 2012.
“More so it’s about faith – just believing and knowing that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish,” Peterson said. “You have faith, but then you work at it to accomplish that.”
While he never lost his faith, he said he had his faith tested more than once during the process.
“Without a doubt,” Peterson said. “Early it was tested. Once I locked in on what I wanted to accomplish, it was a roller coaster. I had my days when I would sit there and it was tough. During that process I was able to sit back and look back at the previous months and days where I was sore or it didn’t feel like I wanted it to. I was able to see the progress that I made. That tested my faith. I just continued to lean on God and my whole understanding. It has worked out for me so far.”
Even if Peterson is allowed to play, it would be in a reduced role, Frazier said. But the Vikings have been testing in more and different ways in practice this week.
“Some of the plays and some of the things we’re asking him to do for the game plan are different than what we’ve asked him to do when he was going through his rehab in training camp and coming back from practice,” Frazier said. “The runs and the activity we’re asking of him are a little bit different than what we did say two weeks ago when he practiced.”
Peterson said he’s willing to be the workhorse if that’s what the team needs, but has prepared himself for whatever role he will play.
“I’m ready to play – 10 snaps, five or 25 to 30,” Peterson said. “I’m ready to roll. That’s my mindset and how I feel about it.”
He has made it 95 percent of the way back faster than even medical professionals thought he could. But the final 5 percent – actually getting back on the field and being the A.P. of old – is the most difficult part and, if the call that is made this weekend to sit him down for the opener, Peterson won’t like it but will accept the decision.
“It would be a hard pill to swallow,” Peterson said. “Hopefully, that’s not the case.”
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.