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: `I'm back in the mix'

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Adrian Peterson Updated: August 12, 2012 - 6:06 PM

MANKATO -- With a big nod of thanks to Mother Nature and her rainy afternoon, the Vikings ended practice after spending a little more than an hour indoors without pads on what basically was a walkthrough. Afterward, running back Adrian Peterson talked to reporters for the first time since being taken off the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list this morning. Peterson, who tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee at Washington on Christmas Eve, worked with the first team, naturally, although there was no contact whatsoever.

Here are the highlights from Peterson's visit with reporters:

On being taken off the PUP: "Oh man, it's just the next step. I feel good that I'm off. I can get back out here with the guys on the field and get back to playing. Get back into the offense and slowly squeeze back in there."

On what he's gone through the past 7 1/2 months: "It's been a true test. They took me off [PUP] today, I just kind of reflect on the day after surgery [on Dec. 30] and the process to get where I am now. It's been hard work. Not only for me, but for [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman and his staff and the staff down in Houston. ... Lot of prayers, giving God his time and keeping my faith. That's what's really gotten me to this point. I'm just excited to be back with the guys and finally get rolling."

On head coach Les Frazier warning that this is only `the next step' in the process: "Pretty much what it came to is I've done all I can do while training and working out and doing different drills. It was time to get back in the mix and start doing some football activities. That's the next step. I'm feeling good. It's time to go out and participate in everything. But I'm going to let these guys do their jobs and I'm just going to go with the flow."

On whether it's a big step in going from just being on the field to being game ready: "It is. But I'm excited. I was like a kid in a candy store today when I came out here and they threw me in with the first group. I was smiling. I had to try to calm myself down. I was going a little too fast for a walkthrough in the beginning. For me, this is so satisfying. I had a lot of people doubting me and saying this and saying that. But I kept my faith and kept working hard. Now, I'm back in the mix."

On his so-called `doubters' still doubting him: "It is what it is. My mindset won't change. It doesn't matter what everyone around me thinks. I'll be doing what I've been doing."

On his conversation with Frazier this morning: "It was something I was expecting. We had a conversation previously. I didn't know exactly when, but I kind of knew around what time. After that conversation, I told him I'll just keep doing what I've been on the side to show him I'd be ready."

On whether it felt like football (even though he was in a cramped gym walking through plays): "A little bit. We're inside. Once I get outside on the grass and get my cleats on and the pads on, then it's going to feel like football to me."

On how long it took for him to reject the initial recovery time table of six to nine months: "Immediately. In my mind, I was like, `I know it's not going to be nine months.' But I'm just going to control what I can control, which is working my butt off every day and taking advantage of everything. Really grinding and getting in good workouts."

On what the toughest part was: "Strengthening my leg. And range of motion. I really wanted to strangle Eric Sugarman a couple of times while going through the process of getting my range of motion back. It was painful, but he helped me get through it. We got through it together. Just looking at my right leg and seeing how massive it was compared to the leg I had surgery on. Just keeping my mind positive and saying, `Hey, five months from now, it's going to be a different story.' I just kept pushing along the way."

On whether he's targeting that third preseason game a week from Friday as his return to the field: "Hopefully I can get some snaps in the preseason. If not, oh well. I feel like I'll be ready to roll either way."

On whether he thought initially that he'd have a chance of playing in the preseason: "Yeah, I did. I thought I could possibly be ready to roll in the preseason. Now, would they play me or not? I didn't really know the answer to that. But I never doubted that I wouldn't be ready."

On who doubted him: "You sense it in people. Of course, the media. Even people you talk to. Some in the family, not necessarily saying they're doubting you. But they're not speaking the same words I'm speaking. My vision, they're not seeing the same things. So with that I'm in disagreement with them. I know they love me and everything, but I'm in disagreement with them. It doesn't matter because I had my mind set on what I wanted to conquer. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. It was going to take work. I had my faith in the right place, my will in the right place. I'm back."

On Sugarman sometimes having to hold him back during the rehab: "Oh, yeah. He probably felt like he was working with one of his kids. `You can't do that.' But you know how I am. I'm always going to push myself to get better. I'm always going to do extra in whatever I do. He did a good job of talking to me and containing me, and just letting me know that, hey, slowly but surely you're going to get back to doing the things you were doing before."

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