Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Peterson knew it 'would be hard for anybody to duplicate' his ACL recovery

Posted by: Matt Vensel under Vikings, Adrian Peterson Updated: April 10, 2014 - 1:39 PM

Nearly two years after Adrian Peterson stunned the NFL and surprised the medical field by returning from a devastating injury to threaten the NFL’s single-season rushing record, the Vikings running back’s left knee remains the standard by which all other surgically-repaired knees are measured.

Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament in his knee late in the 2011 season, an injury that turns most NFL running backs into mere mortals. But Peterson not only returned to the field eight months later, he rushed for 2,097 yards and a dozen touchdowns.

Looking back Wednesday on his recovery and his record-setting season, Peterson acknowledged that he made things difficult for his peers by creating unreasonable expectations for ACL recoveries.

“I knew that when I came back and had the kind of season that I had, I knew that it was going to be hard for anyone to duplicate that type of success after an ACL,” Peterson said on a conference call to promote Hyperice, an ice compression wrap he says aided him in his recovery two years ago and also after his groin surgery this winter. “Why do I say that? I say that because just coming back is one thing. That work that I put in, I can’t really express to you how hard I worked, how hard I grind.”

But Peterson tried. Over the next 60 seconds or so, he described a rehab program that made most, if not all, of the muscles I have ache. Every day, he would ride an exercise bike and do other things to rehab his knee. Then he did upper-body workouts in the gym and performed other exercises to strengthen his quads, hamstring and groin. And that was all before lunch. He then would go meet up with his personal trainer, who had him do plyometrics and other activities to help him strengthen his lower body and regain his flexibility and range of motion in his left knee.

“And I did that for months,” said Peterson, who turned 29 three weeks ago.

After rushing for 230 yards in the first three weeks of the 2012 season, he eclipsed 100 rushing yards in 10 of his final 13 games and topped 200 yards in two of them. Peterson came up eight yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, but he carried the Vikings into the playoffs.

“I was better and I knew just the work alone would be hard for anybody to duplicate,” Peterson said. “So I set the bar high and I knew it was going to raise some trouble for some other people.”

There were 63 ACL injuries during the 2012 season, according to NFL, and some were suffered by standout players such as Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, Houston Texans inside linebacker Bryan Cushing and New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. While the injuries to and the circumstances for each player are different, each of those players experienced a drop-off in their play and production with some (Griffin and Clemons) steeper than others (Revis) in 2013.

No ACL last season was scrutinized more than the one in Griffin’s right knee. Griffin, who reached out to Peterson’s trainer for advice after suffering his knee injury, struggled at times last season before he was benched by (now former) Redskins coach Mike Shanahan for the final three games.

So what made Peterson the exception to all the rules about ACL recoveries two offseasons ago? While he acknowledged that genetics were probably a factor, he mostly chalked it up to hard work.

“That’s not to say that other guys didn’t work hard to come back,” Peterson said. “But I know the kind of work that I put in and I tried to share that with people, but people have their own ways. That’s perfectly fine as well. But I knew it was going to be extremely hard for someone to come out and put in the work that I put in.”

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Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Los Angeles 10 FINAL
Milwaukee 1
San Francisco 12 FINAL
Texas 3
Chicago WSox 0 FINAL
San Diego 5
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Cleveland 9
Seattle 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 7 FINAL
Arizona 2
Pittsburgh 2 Top 4th Inning
NY Yankees 0
Chicago 42 3rd Qtr
Indiana 45
Sacramento 57 3rd Qtr
Orlando 68
Utah 41 3rd Qtr
Philadelphia 42
Miami 39 3rd Qtr
Washington 67
Toronto 42 3rd Qtr
Charlotte 53
Cleveland 19 2nd Qtr
Atlanta 36
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 2 2nd Prd 15:15
New Jersey 0
Minnesota 1 2nd Prd 14:19
Carolina 0
Buffalo 1 1st Prd 4:41
Ottawa 0
Calgary 1 1st Prd 3:39
Detroit 2
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 68 FINAL
Char Southern 60
Ark-Pine Bluff 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Southern Ill 45 FINAL
Wichita State 56
Winthrop 67 FINAL
Radford 66
Evansville 67 FINAL
Illinois State 71
Towson 69 1st OT 0:10
Elon 72
Gardner-Webb 69 1st OT 1:15
High Point 68
Samford 76 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Northern Ill 20 2nd Half
Ball State 22
Bowling Green 35 2nd Half
Buffalo 35
Brown 35 2nd Half 17:50
Dartmouth 24
Toledo 29 2nd Half
Eastern Mich 31
Akron 36 2nd Half 16:02
Kent State 43
Ill-Chicago 31 2nd Half 17:49
Oakland 30
Miami-Ohio 30 2nd Half
Ohio 53
Columbia 12 2nd Half 17:34
Penn 26
Cornell 29 2nd Half 17:18
Princeton 39
Central Mich 22 2nd Half
Western Mich 39
Bradley 25 2nd Half 19:40
Northern Iowa 27
Morehead State 22 1st Half 5:27
Murray State 28
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 7:30 PM
Citadel
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Drexel
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Baylor
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
(21) George Washington 77
Wake Forest 68 FINAL
(16) Duke 77
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
Tennessee St 71 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 59
Loyola Marymount 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 65 FINAL
LSU 71
Cincinnati 76 FINAL
UCF 66
Saint Josephs 61 FINAL
Dayton 80
UCLA 62 FINAL
(19) Stanford 67
Santa Clara 42 FINAL
San Diego 51
Virginia Tech 43 FINAL
(7) Florida State 82
SMU 57 2nd Half 1:24
Memphis 65
Lehigh 75 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Rhode Island 29 2nd Half 16:35
Duquesne 31
North Florida 15 2nd Half 16:39
(20) Fla Gulf Coast 36
Kennesaw St 29 2nd Half
Jacksonville 27
USC Upstate 18 2nd Half 18:00
Northern Ky 24
Lipscomb 32 2nd Half 16:19
Stetson 57
Nebraska 33 2nd Half 17:42
(14) Iowa 41
Saint Peters 37 2nd Half 13:27
Marist 33
Navy 36 2nd Half 13:55
Bucknell 30
Lafayette 31 2nd Half 17:30
American Univ 41
Colgate 19 2nd Half 16:39
Army 23
Georgia 14 2nd Half 17:26
(5) Tennessee 35
Dartmouth 49 2nd Half 14:31
Brown 31
Penn 26 2nd Half 17:33
Columbia 16
(13) Princeton 57 2nd Half 11:29
Cornell 24
Kansas 12 2nd Half 18:35
Kansas State 27
Harvard 47 2nd Half 11:02
Yale 48
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
San Jose St 5 1st Half 18:35
UNLV 0
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
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Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
California
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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

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