Hartman: Peterson's offseason efforts clearly pay off

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2012 - 10:58 PM

The Vikings star running back looks better than ever, but he says it's a product of all the hard work he put in to rehab his knee.

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Running back Adrian Peterson made a 16-yard run that set up the Vikings' first touchdown on their first possession against the Bears on Sunday.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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It's obvious that Adrian Peterson rehabilitated the right way after he had surgery to repair his torn knee ligaments.

Today, nearly a year after he was injured, Peterson says he has never felt better. He is having his best season and, if the Vikings star continues at his recent pace of averaging more than 140 rushing yards per game, he could not only break some records but be voted the NFL MVP.

Peterson put in more work this past offseason than he had in his previous offseasons since joining the Vikings in 2007. He said he really started to work hard at rehabbing his left knee some six months after having surgery.

"I worked hard this offseason, grinding. And just to give you a rundown on the conditioning I did. I started out with a warmup, then came back and ran two 400s [400 yard-runs], this was one of my workouts during the week," he said. "So two 400s, then came back and ran six 200s, then came back and ran 10 110s, then finished off with some 60s as far as speed and quickness getting off the ball."

He added that the above was only half the conditioning he did.

"Outside of that, it was more of the different agilities and stuff like that," he said. "But doing that for a long time and the effort I was putting in, I'm not surprised [at how well I'm doing].

"You switch the workouts up, but yeah, two or three times a week, I did different conditioning work like that. [I] didn't do track work three days a week, got a day on the track or two days, it depended on how I felt or what I was doing."

Peterson, who set the NFL single-game rushing mark in 2007 at 296 yards, has a chance at breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, set in 1984. But Peterson said he doesn't think much about records.

"It's Super Bowls. That's what I want the most, I feel like everything else comes with that," Peterson said. "As a running back I hear all that. You definitely want to break the single-season rushing mark as a running back, and definitely Emmitt Smith's [career rushing yards] record that he's holding. That's something I want to reach. I want to be the best at everything, so those are landmarks I definitely want to reach one day.

"I know I have 1,600 yards and three games left and 500 to get the record. I know that. I'm going to control what I can control now.

"You have to have confidence in this game. You have other guys surrounding you that have that [same] mindset, so it comes down to willpower when it comes to the game of football. You just have to outwill the guy in front of you."

Asked about the Vikings' playoff chances at 7-6, he said: "We sit in the position where we control our own destiny and we still can make it to the postseason. That's fun. When you're coming off a win last week, 1-0, looking to go 3-0 these last three weeks. It's fun for us right now, especially for me."

QB liked Vikings

Rick Kaepernick, the father of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, is a vice president at Hilmar Cheese Company and good friends with Mark Davis, the president of Le Sueur, Minn.-based dairy processor Davisco Foods International. And since the two men do business together, Rick Kaepernick makes a lot of trips here.

For that reason, before last year's draft Davis tried to get the Vikings interested in Kaepernick, who had completed his standout career at Nevada. Kaepernick had interest in working out for the Vikings, but he never got the opportunity. As Wisconsin natives, the Kaepernicks were very interested in the Vikings.

Well what has happened with the 49ers is that Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith, who had a 6-2 record before getting hurt. Smith has not been able to regain his starting position as Kaepernick has quarterbacked the 49ers to a 3-1-1 record after taking over in the second quarter of a 17-17 tie with St. Louis.

Jottings

• With the Gophers men's basketball team ranked at No. 13 by the Associated Press at 11-1, they could soon achieve their highest ranking since 1997, the year of their now-vacated Final Four under Clem Haskins. Since then, the highest the Gophers have been ranked is 13th. They also reached this high in the poll two seasons ago, before they lost 10 of their final 11 games.

• Rams coach Jeff Fisher told the media there this week that the big key to stopping Peterson and the Vikings will be to keep the Rams offense on the field. "Our key to defending Adrian Peterson is keeping Sam [Bradford] under center. I mean, that's the only chance you've got. You've got to keep him on the bench," Fisher said. One injury to keep an eye on is that of St. Louis' Craig Dahl, a Mankato East and North Dakota State product who has been hampered by a concussion and is questionable. Dahl is one of the best tackling safeties in the league and his absence could mean a better chance at long runs.

• According to ESPN, Kyle Rudolph is one of five NFL players tied for second in touchdown receptions in the second halves of games, with six. The second-year Vikings tight end is tied with Denver's Eric Decker and Demariyus Thomas, Chicago's Brandon Marshall and Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace, all behind Dallas' Dez Bryant, whose nine TDs this season have all come after halftime. ... As for Decker, the former Gophers star had a big game last week against Oakland, catching eight passes for 88 yards. Decker told Denver's CBS4 on Sunday that he and Thomas have a friendly wager as to who can finish with the most touchdown catches this season, as they both have eight. He also said they came up with a nickname for themselves, "Salt and Peppa," adding, "We made it up trying to get a promotional deal."

• Eden Prairie alum Ethan Wragge is not starting for Creighton, but he is the No. 16 Bluejays' third-leading scorer at 9.8 points per game. The junior forward has taken almost all his shots from three-point range, hitting 48 percent (26-for-54). He has tried only two two-point shots all season, making both. The Bluejays roster also has freshman Isaiah Zierden of Benilde-St. Margaret's, but the son of former Timberwolves assistant Don Zierden has not yet played.

• Raymond Cowels III is in his senior year playing basketball at Santa Clara, where the Hopkins alum was the only player to start every game last season. The forward is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.7 points per game.

• InterMat wrestling rates the Gophers tied for second in the country at 91.5 in strength rating, behind first-place Penn State at 108.5. The Gophers are 8-1, their lone loss coming against Oklahoma State, the team they are tied with at No. 2.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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