While All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson has been itching to return to live action following his injury, the Minnesota Vikings have decided not to play him in their preseason games against the San Diego Chargers this Friday or the Houston Texans the following week.
In 2011, Peterson suffered injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus of his left knee in a Week 16 game against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 24.
Head coach Leslie Frazier clarifies that there have been "no setbacks" in the recovery process, merely that this decision was in line with the next steps of his rehabilitation program.
If Peterson were to take take carries in the Chargers game this Friday, he would have returned to action slightly before the eight month mark. Typically, it takes eight to ten months to fully rehabilitate from this injury.
The Vikings medical staff are making sure that Peterson runs through a gamut of controlled situations so they can be sure he responds well to unpredictable live play.
"Part of it [is] how he responds when the guys put a pad on him," Frazier said. "When bodies fall down in front of him, how does he handle that? Does he stop and plant like the Adrian of old, or does he just come to a standstill and then he's liable to take a real serious hit?"
Frazier made sure to stress that Peterson has been impressing in rehab, but that they haven't gone through all the benchmark tests to confidently put him at risk in exhibition matches.
Extremely important is his response to contact. The star playmaker has been protected from full tackles or hard hits in practice, and the training staff is making sure that they can control the situations where he'll be hit so they can best evaluate how to move forward.
"There's going to be a point where we want to bang him up a little bit," Frazier elaborated. "But we definitely have talked about just letting him feel a little shock to see how he responds. So, we want to do some things in practice to see how he responds to a hit and then go from there."
Peterson, who has insisted at his readiness in the past, says he understands the decision and will exhibit patience. For his part, he expects to return to the field on Sept. 9 against Jacksonville when the regular season begins.
"My goal is the same," Peterson said. "I want to be out there for that first game. So we'll see. That's where my mindset is. It hasn't changed at all."
He's been keen to return, but has been making sure to temper his eager nature.
"I've been preaching to myself," he said. "I've been repeating it and trying to brainwash myself. Patience. Patience. Because the past couple of weeks I really haven't been hearing the things I've wanted to hear. So I've had to be patient."
The Vikings have set the Jacksonville opener as a target, but the young Pro-Bowler may have to wait for some time yet. Further progress "doesn't guarantee that he'll be ready for Jacksonville," Frazier has clarified. The Vikings will continue to consult with their medical staff when making the decision.
In 2011, Peterson signed a 7-year, $96 million contract with the Vikings. He is due to earn over $11 million this year.79311