The date was December 24, when, on this fateful day, the Vikings visited D.C. to do battle with the Redskins. In the third quarter of this particular Week 16 contest, Adrian Peterson burst through a hole, doing what he always does on a routine running play.
But then, after a hit by ‘Skins safety DeJon Gomes, Peterson fell awkwardly to the ground, proceeding to writhe around in pain on the FedEx Field turf. This feeling was not so familiar.
Both live and on replay, it looked bad. Real bad. The prognosis, which came just minutes later, was worse: A ruptured ACL and torn MCL in his left knee.
Peterson was devastated, and who could blame him? Scoring touchdowns one minute, IR’ed the next. He was also facing a lengthy recovery period, which is likely to spill over into the beginning of next season.
Now, two weeks after undergoing reconstructive surgery, AP has shed some of the initial frustration, and is focusing all of his energy on a Week 1 return.
“I’m not really stressing about anything,” Peterson said. “The goal is to, my personal goal, is to be back for the first game of the season. We’ve got this game plan that is laid out and just making sure that I’m executing it. It’s going to help me accomplish that goal.”
Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, who accompanied Peterson in a meeting with reporters Friday, said the All-Pro running back is well on his way to making his goal a reality.
“I’ll say that the last three days have been really awesome,” Sugarman said. “He’s been riding the stationary bike, he has great motion in his knee with extension and flexion, his quadricep fires really well. Just doing everything that we would expect and then some as we move forward.”
Peterson said the knee was hurting bad in the days following the surgery, but eventually subsided. He’s since felt better, and is ready to enter Phase 4 of the rehab — jogging in a pool — next week.
The progress has Peterson encouraged, at least enough for him to make a prediction that should warm the heart of every fan in the Twin Cities area.
“I feel like I’m going to come back better than before. I know people might laugh at that or think otherwise, but you know what? It doesn’t matter what they think or how they feel about it. The only thing that matters is how I feel about it and what I believe. I’ve been able to just go through the sacrifices and whatever it takes to get to that. I’ve already started that.”
Though it wouldn’t be a stunner if Peterson, one of the most physically gifted players in the NFL, indeed returned to elite form, he still has a long road ahead of him, and is almost certain to miss the team’s offseason workouts and minicamps.
The most probable outcome is Peterson beginning the 2012 campaign on the PUP list, forcing him to sit out the first six games. Yes, all you fantasy football fanatics, that means it’d probably be wise to look elsewhere in the first round this summer.
However, we should have a better pulse of this situation in the next few months, when AP and his trusty trainer hit dry land for the first time.
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