Not many young football players suffer big injuries in their college and pro career the way Vikings star Adrian Peterson
has. In 2006, he broke a collarbone his junior year at Oklahoma that forced him to miss the final seven regular-season games of his collegiate career, and now he is coming back from tearing two knee ligaments in the Vikings' second-to-last game of the 2011 season.
But the 27-year-old running back doesn't think he has been jinxed.
"No I don't think I'm jinxed at all," Peterson said. "That [first injury] happened my junior year. I'm five years in [the NFL]. That's a good span of time without having any serious injuries."
Looking back to his junior year in college when he came back from the collarbone injury for the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State, Peterson said he was not the least concerned about being injured again and believed he became a more aggressive player as a result.
Recalling the injury, he said: "It was against Iowa State, I was going to the end zone and I was going to reach in and dive to reach in, and the guy clipped my leg and my momentum changed and I landed right on my shoulder. I dug into the ground like a shovel on my left side. I felt it pop immediately."
Peterson missed three games last season after spraining his ankle against Oakland on Nov. 20. He returned in Week 14 against New Orleans but then tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee the following week at Washington after being tackled by safety DeJon Gomes on the first play of the second half. The injury ended what was another solid season for Peterson, who was averaging 4.7 yards per carry and finished 30 yards short of 1,000 rushing yards for the season.
Peterson feels like he can recover from his knee injury much like he did his shoulder injury, and come back a stronger player.
"I know that I'll be more aggressive coming off of this," he said. "Making sure that when guys try and go low on my leg, I'm going to be trying to run those guys over to keep them off my legs."
But he said there was no comparison in terms of the recovery process of this injury to his collarbone injury.
"For me, the upper body is easy for me to develop and you're still going to walk around," he said. "[The collarbone injury] kind of affected the way I slept a little bit. But when you talk about the ACL, you know, my muscles just shut down.
"I lost a lot of muscle in my leg. I couldn't walk. I couldn't do a lot. At least when I broke my collarbone, I could get up and go to the restroom when I wanted to. I couldn't do that with this injury. I couldn't walk up stairs for a long period of time. The pain is night and day."
He also had a dislocated shoulder as a freshman at Oklahoma and missed time as a sophomore because of a high ankle sprain, and it seemed like the injury concerns were a reason why he was still available when the Vikings took him seventh overall in the 2007 draft. As a pro, he missed two games during his sensational rookie season after injuring his right knee at Green Bay; the only other game he missed with the Vikings before last season was the 2010 game against Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium, when he was sidelined by a right thigh bruise.
Asked if he will be nervous when he carries the ball for the first time this season, he said: "I'm looking forward to getting my name called so I can suit up.
"Coming back? Yeah, probably anxiety will be there, excitement will be there. I'm going to try and stay within myself and not get caught up in the moment."
And with regards to his offseason arrest in Houston after being at a bar when a fight developed, I've gotten to know this guy as being a very religious person, and he is the last athlete who would get into any trouble. Rest assured, he will be vindicated.
"A lot of people can't stand up for themselves," Peterson said. "If I was just someone that was there partying at the club and gotten arrested, there would have been nothing said about it.
"I'm just representing right. I did nothing wrong. They tried to tarnish my name, the club making up this whole story, and it was uncalled for. Not all cops are bad, but the ones I dealt with that day were."
Veterans, not rookies, struggle
Of the 11 Gophers who started on offense in the 30-27 triple-overtime victory at UNLV on Thursday night, there were only two seniors: quarterback MarQueis Gray, who I believe didn't perform as well as he did for most of his games last season, with a few overthrown passes that could have been big plays; and tight end John Rabe, who caught two touchdown passes in overtime.
The team is very young, but two of the senior leaders, Gray on offense and cornerback Troy Stoudermire on defense, didn't help win the game.
For some reason, Stoudermire played the worst game of his college career, getting two pass interference calls and fumbling a punt that set up UNLV's lone regulation touchdown. The Gophers certainly need better performances out of Gray and Stoudermire, two players coaches are really counting on, if they are to have a winning season.
• Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf will be here Thursday and Friday, when the architect for the team’s new stadium will be selected. Look for Dallas-based HKS Inc., which designed the new Cowboys and Colts stadiums, to be the favorite to get the bid. Incidentally, the Vikings are $7 million under the $120.6 million NFL salary cap.
• The preliminary 2013 schedule has the Twins opening the season on April 1 at Target Field. With expanded, year-round interleague play being introduced, the tentative schedule calls for the Twins to host interleague games vs. traditional rival Milwaukee as well as National League East foes Miami, Philadelphia and the New York Mets. The Twins were very unhappy with the 2012 schedule, which includes 16 home games in September, including the Yankees in the next-to-last week of the season. It will be one of the few times in recent memory where the Twins won’t have capacity crowds against the Yankees at home.
• Twins General Manager Terry Ryan will be honored for scouting excellence at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Dinner on Jan. 12 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
• Former North Stars player, coach and executive Lou Nanne still has good connections to the NHL, and he believes some clubs would be better off financially if there were a lockout in October and November, when they don’t draw big crowds. Nanne is convinced there will be a lockout and that after six weeks or so without hockey, a long-term agreement will be signed by players and owners.
• Christian Ponder was back in Texas on Friday to watch his brother Austin play with Bell High School. Austin Ponder is a junior playing quarterback like his brother. Last year, he started eight games, throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for 10 TDs and 247 yards on 37 carries.