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

Detroit 95 FINAL
Washington 99
Atlanta 93 FINAL
Miami 91
Toronto 98 FINAL
New York 103
Memphis 101 FINAL
Minnesota 97
Brooklyn 104 FINAL
Dallas 94
Milwaukee 75 FINAL
Utah 82
San Antonio 101 FINAL
Phoenix 74
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
New Jersey 2 FINAL
Columbus 0
Arizona 1 FINAL
Boston 4
Toronto 0 FINAL
Montreal 4
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 3 FINAL
Colorado 1
St. Louis 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Ottawa 4 FINAL
San Jose 2
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
ULM 43 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 88 FINAL
Morgan State 77
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 93 FINAL
Char Southern 97
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 72 FINAL
Western Mich 80
Texas 64 FINAL
Kansas 69
Chattanooga 61 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 58
SE Louisiana 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 74
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
South Dakota 80
Montana 77 FINAL
Eastern Wash 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 64
Old Dominion 70 FINAL
North Texas 57
Arkansas State 60 FINAL
Texas State 70
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Tennessee St 62 FINAL
Belmont 88
Princeton 80 FINAL
Brown 62
Dartmouth 56 FINAL
Cornell 45
Tennessee 49 FINAL
Florida 66
Jacksonville St 55 FINAL
Morehead State 87
San Jose St 51 FINAL
Nevada 62
Florida A&M 65 FINAL
NC A&T 77
Iowa 81 FINAL
Penn State 77
Loyola Marymount 49 FINAL
Pepperdine 65
Miss State 68 FINAL
South Carolina 81
Savannah State 68 FINAL
SC State 57
Miss Valley St 49 FINAL
Jackson State 73
Alcorn State 63 FINAL
Southern U 71
Harvard 80 FINAL
Columbia 70
George Washington 66 FINAL
Davidson 77
Syracuse 54 FINAL
Duke 73
Tenn Tech 67 FINAL
Eastern Ky 70
UNC-Wilmington 55 FINAL
Elon 74
Stony Brook 74 FINAL
Hartford 59
Northwestern 60 FINAL
Illinois 86
Western Ill 64 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Buffalo 71 FINAL
Kent State 65
Incarnate Word 66 FINAL
Lamar 79
Cal State Fullerton 47 FINAL
Long Beach State 70
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 76
Fla Atlantic 63 FINAL
Marshall 79
Richmond 63 FINAL
Saint Josephs 57
George Mason 78 FINAL
Saint Louis 50
Austin Peay 65 FINAL
SE Missouri St 89
Ball State 59 FINAL
Toledo 70
Penn 50 FINAL
Yale 55
Milwaukee 82 FINAL
Youngstown St 74
Stetson 71 FINAL
North Florida 86
USC Upstate 65 FINAL
Northern Ky 84
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 70
Abilene Christian 55 FINAL
New Orleans 75
Murray State 73 FINAL
UT Martin 67
Hampton 68 FINAL
Howard 67
Prairie View 75 FINAL
Alabama A&M 72
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 56
Tulsa 74 FINAL
Memphis 72
Wyoming 57 FINAL
UNLV 69
Central Mich 55 FINAL
Northern Ill 73
Denver 57 FINAL
Oral Roberts 60
Charlotte 77 FINAL
Rice 76
Boise State 56 FINAL
San Diego St 46
St Marys-CA 70 FINAL
Santa Clara 71
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Southern Miss 63
New Mexico St 0 Postponed
TX-Pan American 0
FIU 61 FINAL
Western Ky 77
Stephen F Austin 102 FINAL
Houston Baptist 87
Grambling St 57 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Ga Southern 58 FINAL
Louisiana 68
Auburn 55 FINAL
Texas A&M 80
Ark-Little Rock 73 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 82
Sam Houston St 59 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 61
Arizona 63 FINAL
Utah 57
Northern Ariz 74 FINAL
Northern Colorado 76
UC Davis 66 FINAL
Cal Poly 56
New Mexico 55 FINAL
Fresno State 59
BYU 73 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Pacific 55 FINAL
San Francisco 65
Idaho State 57 FINAL
Weber State 61
Sacramento St 73 FINAL
Portland State 60
UC Riverside 76 FINAL
CS-Northridge 83
Washington 55 FINAL
USC 70
CS-Bakersfield 43 FINAL
Seattle 53
UC Irvine 51 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 54
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 FINAL
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
UCLA 61 FINAL
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
UMKC 42 FINAL
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
UNLV 68 FINAL
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Southern U 76
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 72 FINAL
San Diego 80
Nevada 72 FINAL
San Jose St 81
Stephen F Austin 69 FINAL
Houston Baptist 57
Incarnate Word 64 FINAL
Lamar 81
Abilene Christian 50 FINAL
New Orleans 71
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 74
San Francisco 91 FINAL
Pacific 79
Prairie View 81 FINAL
Alabama A&M 71
Hampton 106 FINAL
Howard 57
Chicago State 53 FINAL
Utah Valley U 68
Cal Poly 75 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 84
UC Santa Barbara 57 FINAL
UC Davis 52
Marshall 73 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 83
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 88 FINAL
FIU 47
UAB 62 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Georgia Southern 35 FINAL
Louisiana 62
Grambling 59 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 45
Ark-Little Rock 48 FINAL
TX-Arlington 38
Cornell 33 FINAL
Dartmouth 54
Columbia 81 FINAL
Harvard 82
Brown 67 FINAL
(14) Princeton 79
USC 62 FINAL
Washington St 68
(24) California 55 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 73
Yale 33 FINAL
Penn 59
Murray State 74 FINAL
UT Martin 87
Loyola-Maryland 50 FINAL
Navy 59
Jacksonville 47 FINAL
(21) Fla Gulf Coast 78
Long Beach St 69 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 62
Rice 59 FINAL
Charlotte 78
Colgate 61 FINAL
Lehigh 60
CS-Northridge 88 FINAL
UC-Riverside 70
Kansas 65 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
Oklahoma St 47 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
New Mexico St 80
North Dakota 66 FINAL
Southern Utah 73
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Northern Ariz 67
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close