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.
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.”
Former Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman, who was in the Twin Cities on Thursday to make a free-agent visit with the Vikings, was offered a contract by the Vikings, a source confirmed.
The visit ended this morning with no deal agreed upon, but the door remains open for now.
Coleman, 25, is a former seventh-round pick of the Eagles. Coleman started at free safety for the Eagles in 2011 and 2012 and made 29 starts in his four seasons with the Eagles. He was a reserve last season after Chip Kelly replaced Andy Reid as head coach. Coleman has made 170 tackles in his career with seven interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles.
He became an unrestricted free agent when his contract expired following last season.
The Vikings already have six safeties on the roster and return a pair of starters in Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford. If signed, Coleman, at the very least, could provide some quality depth and help the Vikings out on special teams. He played on both coverage teams for the Eagles last season and had a hand in eight special-teams tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.
Coleman is an Ohio native who played college football at Ohio State.
ESPN first reported the news that the Vikings offered Coleman a contract.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made the following comments on a conference call with about 20-some media members roughly 18 hours ago. We haven't checked to see, but do realize it's quite possible that these words have spent the past 17 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds being analyzed from coast to coast, internationally and galactically on the Martian NFL Radio Network.
But, hey, it's AP and it was one of his typically honest responses about a hot-button issue that divides opinions and usually leaves people in Peterson's position reaching for a comfortable fence to straddle. So when Peterson is asked whether college athletes should be paid, well, it's interesting to see where he stands. And here's where he stands, according to where he stood 18 hours ago:
"I feel like they deserve to [be paid]. I've been asked this before [and people have said,] `Well, what do you think about full scholarships?' Guys will say scholarships are good enough. No. No. Because you work for those full scholarships. You qualify academically, and if you don't ... I see the best athletes go to junior colleges because academically they weren't able to qualify. So guys work extremely hard to get to college, to be able to get that full scholarship at a university.
"And then, once you get to the university, you see guys ... for example, Johnny Manziel and, actually, I could use myself, too. When I was in college, I know personally as far as jersey sales and ticket sales I helped that university make a lot of money. Johnny Manziel helped make Texas A&M so much money. You're talking about championship games he was able to lead them to. You're talking about jersey sales that he doesn't see a dime of. And in the meantime, you got a guy who possibly could be struggling to live outside of college.
"No one wants to live in the dorms for four years. Then the guys who are older, who have responsibilities ... I came in at a time when my first daughter was being born. So there were different responsibilities that I had outside of playing football and going to class. So I feel like as much as universities make, I feel like some of that money should be given down to the players as well because essentially we are the ones making these universities money. These bowl games, without the players, how much money do they make? None. Without the players, how much money do they make? They make no money without the players.
"And then you transition into basketball. I hear they're trying to make basketball players go two years to college. Wow. I wonder why? Just think about it. Imagine if LeBron James would have gone to college for two years. How much money would that college have made off LeBron James? They would have made so much money off of LeBron James. So I feel like that's the reason they're doing it. And I understand they're are a lot of guys who come out of high school and go to the draft and they don't end upu making it. But it's a freedom. This is the United States. It's based off of freedom. You should be able to do as you want and make your own decisions. So I really feel like athletes should get paid as well because the universities are definitely getting paid."
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said he's getting close to being able to participate in the team's offseason conditioning program and that he fully understands and wasn't bothered when new head coach Mike Zimmer went on an Austin, Texas radio station and said that Peterson needed to prove himself as a leader on Zimmer's team.
Speaking to reporters via a conference call set up to promote Peterson's investment in a medical recovery device called Hyperice, Peterson said he's bouncing back well from the groin surgery he had in January. It's the third straight offseason in which Peterson has had surgery. He had major knee surgery before the 2012 season and hernia surgery before last season.
"I can't sit here and say I'm back right now," Peterson said. "But I am not far off at all."
As with most athletes, Peterson was more revealing about the timing and seriousness of his groin injury today than he was last season. Peterson said he originally hurt the groin on Nov. 3 at Dallas. He played in the next seven games before taking a seat early in the second half of the 15th game of the season at Cincinnati. To be fair, the team didn't hide the groin injury and there were times during the second half of the season when the whole football-watching world knew Peterson wasn't anywhere near 100 percent.
Here are a few highlights of Peterson's conversations with reporters:
On his groin surgery in January:
"To be honest with you, I didn't know what to expect. I was hoping I wouldn't have to have surgery. [The injury] happened Nov. 3 [at Dallas], and originally it felt like it might be a strained groin. Gradually, it continued to get worse and then we went to Baltimore [on Dec. 8] and I had the foot injury. It all came back to the previous groin injury. The foot injury was a reflection of the groin because I wasn't able to cut and I wasn't as elusive as I needed to be. But being the competitor that I am, I didn't come out and say that. I'm going to go out and try to do the job no matter what.
"I felt like I didn't really have the lateral movement, but I was still going to be able to get outside the tackle box and cut upfield. ... It was a situation that put me possibly in a bad predicament. But now I'm feeling good. I'm training hard. My recovery is connected as well. So I'm using the Hyperice. Icing is the key. I've been sitting back, working out, recovering my body and getting ready for the season.
On Zimmer's comments about Peterson needing to prove he's a leader:
"Being around a new coach for the third time, yeah, I definitely understand where he's coming from when he says that. He doesn't know me that well. I met him. We talked. We chatted once or twice. I'm sure not only me, but everyone else has to prove that they are leaders of the team. That's something that I really take pride in as well. That's all a part of me taking care of my business when I'm away from the facility. It's normal. It's a normal routine for me. When I'm not in Minnesota, I'm taking care of my body. I'm working out extremely hard to be productive for my team. Coming off the groin surgery, I was slowed down a little bit, but I've been able to recover a lot faster. So, yeah, it is what it is. I respect what he has to say."
On participating in the team's offseason program, which began on Monday:
"I haven't been able to put a date on [when I'll be there], but, yeah, I do [plan to] as far as participating. Right now, the most important thing is being healthy. That's what I'm doing. I'm rehabbing. I'm working out still to get the body back to where it needs to be. Talking about the Hyperice, it's a big part of my recovery as far as being able to ice different parts of my body to speed up the recovery time, to get me back out on the training field to be able to be productive and work towards getting back to my normal self."
Peterson was introduced to Hyperice by NBA star and fellow Univeristy Oklahoma product Blake Griffin. According to the Hyperice company, the device provides the benefits of cryotherapy and compression, enabling the reduction of swelling and the healing of tissues. Considering that Peterson set the bar for all future ACL recoveries, he's quite the company spokesman.
"It's a game-changer for me," Peterson said of Hyperice.
The Vikings will host their first game at TCF Bank Stadium against the Raiders in Week 1 of the preseason schedule.
The NFL unveiled the entire preseason schedule on Wednesday. With times and dates on most games to be determined, here’s how the Vikings preseason schedule looks (date range of when the game will be played in parenthesis):
Week 1: vs. Oakland (Aug. 7-9)
Week 2: vs. Arizona (Aug. 14-16)
Week 3: at Kansas City (Aug. 21-23)
Week 4: at Tennessee (Aug. 28-29)
The Vikings do not have a nationally televised preseason game this year.
The complete NFL preseason schedule is here.
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