Leslie Frazier met with reporters this morning at Winter Park and elaborated on the Vikings’ decision to hold running back Adrian Peterson out of game action for the rest of the preseason.
“It’s just a part of the progression,” Frazier said. “We think he’s doing a good job. There are no setbacks. That’s not the reason we’re doing it. We just feel like more time with him in practice with some of the things that we’re doing and the progression of getting him ready for the season, it’s the right thing to do. That doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be ready for Jacksonville [in the regular season opener on Sept. 9]. But what this does is give us more time to throw more things at him in practice and get him prepared.
“Hopefully there won’t be any setbacks. There haven’t been to this point. He’s continued to progress. And everything has gone better than can be expected up to this point. But this is a decision we made. We talked with him about it. And for the first time in our conversations, he kind of seemed like he understood. He even used the word ‘patience.’ And I was like, ‘Wow. Finally. It’s clicking.’ He’s on board, everybody’s on board. This is the right thing to do.”
Frazier said Peterson’s dad has been encouraging the Vikings running back to listen to the coaches and the team medical personnel with the understanding that they have his best interests in mind.
Frazier also said Peterson carried a heavy workload in Monday afternoon’s practice, getting 18 carries in the team setting and showing no adverse effects from that effort.
So with the red light fixed to keep Peterson out of game action for the next nine days, what would it take for the Vikings to flip the light to green for the season opener on Sept. 9 against the Jaguars?
“Part of it,” Frazier said, “is how he responds when some of the guys put a pad on him. How does he handle that? And 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 where he’s [vulnerable] to taking a really serious hit?”
Frazier said he has yet to lift the no-contact on Peterson policy that’s been in effect since the running back participated in his first padded practice a week ago. The Vikings coach said there was no definitive timetable for when he will allow defenders to hit Peterson again, though it will come sometime before that regular season opener.
“There will be a point where we want to bang him up a little bit,” Frazier said. “I don’t know that we’ll take him to the ground. But we’ve definitely talked about letting him feel a little shock to see how he responds.”
Overall, the coaching staff has been incredibly impressed with Peterson’s rehabilitation and recovery progress to date. And now with the regular season nearing, they just want to make certain that they can test Peterson’s instincts, quickness and comfort level in a controlled environment before the expose him to the high speeds of game action.
“He’s been so far ahead in his rehab all along,” Frazier said. “Even the things he’s doing in practice, there’s nothing that makes you feel like you have to pull back just from watching him move around. But the more things we can give to him in the time we have leading up to the season opener, the better [opportunity] we’ll have as far as tape is concerned in being able to evaluate what’s the best thing to do – whether to let him go in that first game or hold him back a little longer.”