MANKATO --The Vikings will travel to San Francisco on Thursday, but running back Adrian Peterson will stay behind in hopes that three more days of focused drills and exercises will convince the team that his rebuilt left knee can withstand at least a handful of snaps in a later preseason game.
"I'm definitely getting better," said Peterson, whose surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament came less than eight months ago. "I look forward to being out here [practicing] pretty soon. It's time to get going. I know that they understand that. They've been watching and getting good feedback, so I'm pretty sure they're as excited as I am."
Coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson is pushing him daily to be taken off the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list.
"It's never-ending," Frazier said. "But he knows we have a plan and we've talked him through that plan. He's on board. We just have to keep seeing him progress and we'll re-evaluate things when we come back from San Francisco. He's going to be relentless until we let him back out there. But we got to be smart. I have to listen to what the doctors and trainers tell me, but everything I'm hearing is extremely positive."
If Peterson does show that he's ready to play in the preseason, the likely game to target is the Aug. 24 home game against the San Diego Chargers. If that's the case, Peterson probably would be taken off the PUP shortly after the Aug. 17 game against the Buffalo Bills and then practice in full pads that next week.
Camp observers can attest that Peterson has been working extremely hard off to the side with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
"[The workouts] are as hard as you make them," Peterson said. "You can come out and go through the motions and not get good work. When I'm out here, my mindset is, you know, [when] we play that first game [Sept. 9] to be back out there. I'm out here getting good work in."
Peterson said he's thought a lot about taking that first live hit on a knee that buckled in a gruesome injury at Washington on Christmas Eve.
"I'm ready to get hit," he said. "It might sound insane, but just to get that feel. Around the patellar tendon area, that area kind of stays numb for a good period of time because they cut the nerves and all that. So it kind of feels a little funny in that area. So it will take a couple of shots in that area to see how I feel and get back used to getting hit."
Meanwhile, Peterson spoke to reporters for the first time since Monday's court appearance in Houston. The prosecution asked for more time to review Peterson's July 7 arrest for resisting arrest. Pre-trial dates were set for Sept. 27 and Nov. 15. Peterson said he doesn't have to attend those court dates.
"I feel like we're in a good position right now," Peterson said of his case. "The most important thing is no more interuptions. We'll just see how it plays out."
Frazier said again that the Vikings will want Peterson to play a preseason game if it's determined that he'll be playing in Week 1 of the regular season.
"There are no indications to this point that he wouldn't be [ready for the regular season]," Frazier said. "Everything he's done, he's been right on point. Now I say that without having seen him ever participate in a drill with his teammates. But from what we've seen of him off to the side, he's looked very, very good. But we still have some more steps to take."