You hear that faint hum? That’s the sound of a buzz being generated in Mankato. By the Vikings.
Yep, with only two full practices left in training camp at Minnesota State University, we have signs that our first major story is surfacing.
Star running back Adrian Peterson is back. And not just back; this afternoon he’ll participate in his first padded practice since way back on Dec. 22. That was two days before the Vikings went to Washington D.C. and left with a 33-26 victory and their star running back on crutches.
Peterson tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on the first play of the second half that afternoon. He had surgery on the knee less than a week later. And now, 32 weeks and four days after coming off the operating table, he’s back in the mix at practice.
That should provide for some intrigue and entertainment when the Vikings get back out on the field a little more than an hour from now. For the past three weeks, the Vikings have been almost entirely off the NFL radar. Yet today? The ESPN cameras have returned to document Peterson’s return.
This isn’t quite as big as the Brett Favre circus during the preseasons of 2009 and 2010. But it’s something.
Peterson has been itching to make this return for a long time now. Yet the Vikings’ coaching staff, aware of Peterson’s eagerness and relentless drive, will continue to use caution with how they handle Peterson today.
In fact, head coach Leslie Frazier spoke with defensive players at length about Peterson’s return to practice, reminding them to treat the team’s biggest offensive star with extreme care.
“I definitely talked with them about it and now we have to adhere to it,” Frazier said after this morning’s walk-through. “But one of the things they told me was, ‘Coach, you know how he runs. I mean he runs [so hard]. What about protecting us?’ Adrian’s not going to change his running style. We all know that. But we have to be smart when he’s out there.”
Peterson will participate in just a handful of plays this afternoon during 7-on-7 and full-team work, a workload, Frazier said, that’s designed “for him to be able to gauge where he is and be able to give us an indication the next day of how he feels after getting a couple of snaps.”
Peterson’s goal of playing in a preseason game will likely be met next week when the Vikings host San Diego. That Sept. 9 date that Peterson has targeted, hoping to return to action for the opening day of the regular season remains within reach as well. But Peterson likely won’t be ready for a workhorse workload any time in the next few weeks, a reality Frazier continues to stress as he talks about “giving [Peterson] increments along the way and not trying to bring it all back in one or two practices.”