Peterson's rehab from knee surgery on the fast track

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 3, 2012 - 8:03 AM

Adrian Peterson isn't budging from his goal to play in Week 1, but the team monitoring his knee rehab has its own schedule to keep.

hide

Adrian Peterson pushed himself hard — no surprise there — during a parachute drill last week during Vikings organized team activities at Winter Park.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribunehttps://cms.clickability.com/cms#

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Eric Sugarman should probably know better. But hey, sometimes you just can't help yourself.

So even though the Vikings head athletic trainer spent the past five months preaching the need to keep Adrian Peterson's superhuman ambition from becoming dangerous, occasionally he likes to press a button or two.

You know, just to check if Peterson's relentless positivity can be tested.

That's why, in the corner of the Vikings training room, a few paces from the in-pool treadmill Peterson used during the early stages of his knee rehabilitation, Sugarman took the liberty of doctoring the art.

A framed painting hangs there. In unaltered form, it portrays Peterson looking up, his gaze calm and assured.

The new version? Sugarman changed the expression, cutting the running back's head from a photo taken last Christmas Eve and taping it to the canvas. That picture, snapped moments after Peterson blew out his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments at Washington, captures the Vikings star with an agonizing grimace.

Said Sugarman: "I've told Adrian once he's fully healthy again, I'll take that down."

Peterson's take?

"Everybody's got jokes. Ha ha. It's funny. But I'm seriously getting ready to rip that picture off. When I see it, it's always a big reminder of that day. And I'm kind of tired of looking at it. I need to find me a razor blade and go to work."

Maybe this is part of the reason Peterson has attached himself so firmly to his own projected full-recovery date.

The faster Peterson heals, the sooner he can bury that painful memory from last winter.

Testing positive

So put an "X" through Dec. 24, 2011.

Peterson is locked in on another date: Sept. 9, 2012.

That's the day the Vikings open the regular season against Jacksonville. That's now 14 weeks away.

"What I envision is to be suited up and ready to roll. Full strength," Peterson said. "Anything else? I would be cheating myself."

Still, before fast-forwarding, perhaps it's appropriate to rewind first to the New Year's Eve Peterson never wanted to experience. That night is commemorated through pictures he tweeted from a hospital bed in Birmingham, Ala., just a day after Dr. James Andrews sliced into his left knee to repair his severely damaged ACL and MCL.

In those photos, Peterson wears a playful smirk and a plastic "HAPPY NEW YEAR" derby. He has a noisemaker hanging from his lips and a pint of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream in his hand.

Hey, if he was going to be confined to a hospital bed as 2011 turned into 2012, why not at least deliver a good-humored spin move?

"I was feeling a little loopy," Peterson confessed. "I wanted to have a good time too and show everyone I was in good spirits and planning to handle this the best way possible. I wasn't going to sit around and sulk."

As daunting as the rehab process seemed, Peterson immediately vowed to use positive energy as his secret weapon.

"Attitude is critical with this," said Russ Paine, the physical therapist Peterson is working closely with in Houston. "If you're not really stable with who you are, an injury like this can be a huge blow to your ego. You're the king of the hill, then all of a sudden -- uh-oh.

"But Adrian? He's been energetic since the day I met him."

That's not to say there wasn't any depression. Sugarman notes that during the two weeks after surgery, Peterson's pain was intense. Moving around in slow-motion, Peterson said, proved frustrating.

The sleep deprivation made him angry.

"You think he's Adrian Peterson. Invincible. Doesn't bleed when you cut him," Sugarman said. "But for those two weeks? He was a disaster. Every morning, coming in and laying on that [trainer's] table and he was about as miserable as a human being could be. He was calling me late at night, texting me with hate messages.

"He didn't shave. He lost weight. He hurt. And I took the brunt of it."

For two weeks and two weeks only. After that, self-pity might as well have been a slow-footed, 160-pound defensive back trying to corral Peterson in the open field.

Out of the ordinary

In Houston, Peterson's drive has been on full display.

Paine, one of Andrews' endorsed therapists, has a handful of NFL players he's helping rehab injuries this offseason. That group includes Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, Buccaneers defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and free-agent safety James Ihedigbo.

"Even they recognize Adrian's different," Paine said. "He has a different protoplasm than the rest of the world."

Peterson will tell anyone who listens that immediately after his surgery, doctors told him it would take three days to regain enough strength to lift his leg. Yet as that warning was being issued, Peterson was already elevating his leg.

Last month, while guiding Peterson through a balance session at Winter Park, Sugarman called for a water break. Ten minutes later, he couldn't find Peterson. Turns out the running back had bolted to pump out a few reps on the leg press.

That's been the biggest challenge for those overseeing Peterson's recovery: making sure his drive doesn't become self-destructive.

Paine faced a similar challenge in 2000 when, as an assistant team physician to the Houston Rockets, he was helping Charles Barkley work back from a torn quadriceps tendon. Barkley was always trying to accelerate the customary patient timeline.

"I'd tell him, 'Charles, you've got to do these things by the standard. I know you think you're special. But your quad tendon doesn't know it's in Charles Barkley's body,' " Paine said. "And he looked at me with a smile and said, 'Oh, yes it does.' "

Peterson is similarly wired. Darn proud of it, too.

"With the experts, I'm sure 90 or 95 percent of the time, they're right with their estimates," he said. "But there are some guys you can't put the traditional timetable on. Some guys are different. I just happen to feel I'm one of those guys."

One-track mind

At this stage, Peterson has done two Winter Park rehab workouts in front of the media. The most recent came Wednesday.

He shuffled while chasing a soccer ball in a sand pit.

He ran sprints with receiver Percy Harvin, sprinting up a steep hill beside the practice field each time.

Peterson also ran full speed in the end zone as Sugarman restricted his progress with a parachute apparatus, then suddenly released him to run free.

"I was having a heck of a time holding him back," Sugarman said.

That's been the challenge all along.

Plus, it's only going to get harder as Peterson continues to see Vikings teammates practicing and working toward that season opener.

For now, he remains ahead of schedule. His full range of motion has returned. He looks great and feels better.

But Paine issues a reminder of the phases Peterson has yet to clear. His left quadriceps still needs strengthening. Then there's the inescapable need to regain proprioception -- getting his knee to reach a state of equilibrium and balance with the rest of his body. That takes time.

So while Sugarman supports Peterson's urge to be ready for Week 1, he isn't crazy enough to promise it.

"In reality, he is only going to be back on the field when he is functionally safe to go on the field. Not just because he wants to say, 'Oh, I did it. I'm the greatest.' There's a lot more to it."

Which leads to the one question that seems to confound Peterson: What happens if Sept. 9 arrives and he is not ready to play?

"I don't know how to answer that question," Peterson said. "And I struggle to even entertain it. Because that's not the way my mind is tuned in. I can't let that negativity seep in. My mindset is that I will be there. I want to be playing. Forget what everyone else says."

OK.

So Sept. 9 remains the goal until it's no longer possible. Then, if need be, Peterson will readjust.

"No," Peterson asserted. "The goal is the goal. And I'm going to accomplish it."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 114 FINAL
New Orleans 88
Utah 86 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Atlanta 104 FINAL
Houston 97
San Antonio 93 FINAL
Dallas 99
Indiana 73 FINAL
Denver 76
Milwaukee 102 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 7 FINAL
Toronto 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Washington 4 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Florida 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Chicago 2 FINAL(SO)
Columbus 3
Nashville 6 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 5
Calgary 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
St. Louis 2 3rd Prd :03
San Jose 2
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 77
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
NJIT 84 FINAL
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 77 FINAL
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 62 FINAL
Dayton 78
Iona 81 FINAL
George Mason 86
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
Kansas State 71
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 FINAL
West Virginia 83
TX A&M-CC 75 FINAL
CS-Northridge 68
Cal Poly 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 63
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 FINAL
Portland 87
Ball State 57 FINAL
San Diego St 70
South Dakota St 68 FINAL
Utah State 65
Stanford 72 2nd Half 1:58
BYU 77
Utah 32 2nd Half 15:40
UNLV 28
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 4th Qtr 0:31
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
Montana 83
Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 73 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 36

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday against Miami?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close