EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.
- Adrian Peterson isn't back to normal yet.
That's natural. The Minnesota Vikings star is merely six months removed from reconstructive surgery on his left knee, rehabilitating an injury that can take a year to return to full strength.
Peterson, though, is not a run-of-the-mill running back. He possesses a unique blend of fierce determination, perpetual optimism and seemingly superhuman strength, so if anyone can come back ahead of schedule and pick right up where he left off it's probably him.
His steady progress and lack of setbacks since tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments last Dec. 24 has only increased the expectations that he'll find a way to be on the field for the season opener Sept. 9 when the Vikings host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Peterson spoke to reporters during minicamp Wednesday, his usual upbeat attitude contradicting the dreariness of a rainy afternoon dominated by wide receiver Percy Harvin's request for a trade.
Harvin told Peterson recently he's cutting so well it's tough to tell he was injured.
"So that made me feel good," Peterson said.
But even Peterson had to put aside his utopian view for a few seconds and acknowledge the reality of his situation. There is still much work to be done.
"I know my body overall, and I know I'm just not there yet," Peterson said. "It's not terrible, but I'm not to where I know I need to be."
Training camp starts in five weeks.
"He really is on course and still doing well, but we need to see him be able to cut, be able to explode out of a cut and change direction without having any residual effects from that. Then the next step would be maybe putting shoulder pads on and seeing how he takes contact and seeing how he cuts when people come at him," head coach Leslie Frazier said, adding: "We're too far out right now to predict where we'll be five weeks from now."
Peterson declared himself "pretty much wide open" as far as his ability to go full speed in any type of drill, exercise or activity. But as Frazier noted, putting those pads on is another story. For now, he's continuing to try to restore strength in the muscles above and below the knee so they're back to pre-injury condition as well as practicing the kind of cuts, plants and pivots he'll have to perform without hesitation or limitation to return to All-Pro form.
"I'm doing as much as I can. I'll be talking to the coaches and whispering in their ears and trying to get out there as much as possible. But we'll see," he said.
NOTES: LB Jasper Brinkley, in line to be the new starter at the middle spot, is being held out of minicamp because of a groin problem. He missed last season after hip surgery. Frazier said the injuries aren't related, but he again expressed concern about the team's depth at that position. "You can't make him go out there and practice if you know it's going to create some issues for him health-wise, but it does definitely make you concerned," Frazier said. ... WR Stephen Burton, a seventh-round draft pick last year who is in the mix for a roster spot, has pneumonia and won't practice anymore this week.
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