Adrian Peterson meant what he said

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 9, 2012 - 1:35 AM

Adrian Peterson vowed he would be ready for Game 1 of the 2012 season. Now it's in the bosses' hands.

On Thursday morning, with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson understanding his Week 1 status would be a game-time decision, he sat in an office at Winter Park still scheming to get his final say.

Moments earlier, during a 10-minute locker room exchange with reporters, Peterson sincerely professed his faith in Leslie Frazier's decision-making, vowing to accept whatever resolution the head coach reached.

But that didn't mean Peterson was above exerting pressure. So for a moment, he envisioned Sunday's pregame warmups and the pivotal verdict that would follow in the to-play-or-not-to-play saga.

"Oh yeah, I'm going to have a word in it. Believe that," Peterson said. "I will have my say."

Asked if it might take 10 people to pry his shoulder pads off, Peterson laughed.

"Probably a lot more than that."

Understand this: As the Vikings open the regular season Sunday against Jacksonville, Peterson has checked the box beside his biggest offseason goal.

Yes, he has always vowed to play in the season opener, virtually since the anesthesia wore off after his Dec. 30 surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.

But having himself ready to play with the decision now in the hands of Frazier and the front office counts for something, too.

"I feel like I've done everything I could do to be ready," Peterson said.

Peterson's goal to return to action on Sept. 9 still hangs in the balance.

Making good on a declaration that he will soon be better than ever before? Before long, Peterson will begin that next steep climb.

Backfield buddies

Until further notice, Toby Gerhart will be the Vikings' workhorse back, the insurance policy that will allow Peterson to ease back into his groove.

Don't forget, it was Gerhart who uncorked the Vikings' longest run in 2011, a 67-yarder at Washington that came on the series after Peterson's gruesome season-ending knee injury.

Gerhart still laughs at his inability to reach the end zone on his big run, caught at the 8 by Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson.

"Around the 20, it felt like the whole field titled uphill," Gerhart said.

But in rushing for 105 yards on nine carries after halftime that day and sparking a 33-26 victory, Gerhart added to the confidence he had been building throughout the second half of last season as his workload increased.

"I learned I can do this," he said. "With that confidence, you're able to relax and use your talents. You start seeing things earlier, hitting it faster."

Even Peterson has a profound admiration for Gerhart's dedication. The two backs, while competing for work, have developed a strong bond and an understanding that they can help each other. Peterson's eyes bug out when he talks of Gerhart's diligence in meetings, his penchant for asking good questions and thoroughly documenting everything that's being taught.

"I write things down," Peterson said. "But I don't write things down like Toby."

Gerhart speaks with similar amazement when noting Peterson's indefatigable drive. He thinks back to the Vikings' first session of organized team activities in May when Peterson, with his left knee still strengthening, spent much of the afternoon racing receiver Percy Harvin up the grassy hill beside the practice field.

"To see him competing stride for stride with Percy, to me, it left no doubts he was going to be back and as good as ever," Gerhart said.

Last week, Gerhart joined Peterson for a similar hill session, driven to keep up.

"It's not just his work ethic, it's his positivity," he said. "He's always at 100 miles per hour, pushing himself. But he never complains. You'll never hear him say, 'I'm sore. I'm tired. My legs feel heavy today.'"

What could be next?

Peterson has always embodied an enthusiasm to push forward. But now that eagerness has spiked, especially after an offseason that he acknowledges has been filled with a series of unusual and sometimes trying twists.

Of course there was all that grueling rehabilitation -- the severe pain in the month after surgery followed by the incremental push to restore his range of motion, then his strength, then his ability to cut and react.

But there was off-the-field chaos as well. Peterson saw the back of a police car in July in Houston, arrested at a nightclub and charged with resisting arrest after a skirmish with security.

He also saw the back of an ambulance during training camp after a bizarre incident in which he had a seriously adverse reaction to cafeteria jambalaya.

"God has been testing me," Peterson said.

Neither episode has full closure. Peterson's next court date on the misdemeanor charge is scheduled for Sept. 27. He said he knows in his heart he committed no crime and never initiated contact with officers as the Houston Police Department alleges.

But Peterson will concede that he learned an important lesson from that incident, admitting he probably inflamed things with one last acerbic comment on the way out the door.

"I saw how fast something can flip, just like that," Peterson said. "So innocent. It wasn't meant to get to that level. So I've been able to step back and get a different view of Adrian and things I need to be better about. ... You need to know when to walk away.

"Yeah, I've got the freedom of speech to say what I want to say. But me saying what I wanted to say added to what happened. I'm not saying you submit to anyone. But I could have cut it short."

Peterson is also still awaiting results back on the exam he underwent to test for food allergies. His fingers are crossed it wasn't seafood that sent him to the hospital in Mankato.

"That's all I eat is seafood," Peterson said. "I probably ate over 60 pounds of crawfish this offseason. Crab legs, stone crab, blue crab, Dungeness crabs. I can't go without seafood."

'I'm back'

Peterson's return to action will inevitably feature additional obstacles to maneuver around. Yet while many athletes recovering from ACL tears experience a dip in confidence and a bit of hesitance in their injured knee, Peterson has no such worries. Neither do the people around him.

"Adrian doesn't understand hesitance," Gerhart said. "But I don't think you can. The moment you slow down and start playing cautious is the moment you get rolled on. Adrian's going to attack this and play like nothing was ever wrong."

Added running backs coach James Saxon: "That desire and that positive demeanor is who Adrian is and how he's made. I don't know if anybody can accurately give you the answers of what and why and when and how with how far he's come. But I told him to go hug his mom and dad for passing on that DNA and that mindset."

Peterson's first carry -- whether it comes in Week 1 or Week 2 -- will be a symbolic milestone, a testament to his resolve, ambition and contagious positive energy.

So how will Peterson himself know he's back? Like fully back, All-Pro caliber again.

Not surprisingly, it's a question the Vikings star answers with little hesitation.

"I know already on the inside that I'm back," he said. "It's about me getting out there now and making it known."

  • related content

  • Chart: Adrian Peterson's long road back

    Saturday September 8, 2012

    In a Christmas Eve victory at Washington last season, Adrian Peterson was injured as he planted his left leg and was tackled by Redskins cornerback DeJon Gomes. Here's the rest...

  • Souhan: No characters, no turmoil, these are the Bizarro Vikings

    Sunday September 9, 2012

    What other franchise could give you both The Whizzinator and the Pecos River Learning Center? None other than the Vikings.

  • The call: Vikings vs. Jacksonville

    Sunday September 9, 2012

    One man's prediction: Vikings 27, Jacksonville 24 Adrian Peterson will do his best to get the home crowd revved...

  • Adrian Peterson returned to practice on Aug. 12. For the time being, third-year back Toby Gerhart is expected to get extra carries.

  • When Adrian Peterson began training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list — seven months after suffering a serious left knee injury — he kept pushing himself with his own intense regimen.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
UCLA 72
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
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