Some quick math for you: It's been a little more than 17 weeks now since Adrian Peterson had surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee. And only 18 weeks remain until the Vikings will be immersed in game week preparation for the regular season. (Their 2012 opener is scheduled for Sept. 9 at home against Jacksonville.)

So even though Peterson is excelling in his rehabilitation and still vowing to be back in the lineup by Week 1, the Vikings are aware they need a Plan B. And they're confident they have that in third-year back Toby Gerhart.

"I'm preparing to be the guy," Gerhart said Wednesday, taking a short break from the team's offseason conditioning work. "I try to do that every year. But this year it's a little more prevalent. I'm doing everything I can to be here, work hard, work with the new guys we have coming in. I'm pushing everybody and getting pushed by other guys. Preparing to be the guy, depending on whether Adrian comes back."

Gerhart, himself, suffered a knee injury at the end of last season, suffering a slight tear in the MCL of his left knee during a season-ending loss to the Bears. But that injury did not require surgery, healed on its own and left Gerhart optimistic that he'll be able to charge through the offseason without any setbacks.

Gerhart said Wednesday that the misery of last season's 3-13 nosedive has dissipated. The energy levels and strong attendance for the team's voluntary offseason conditioning work are further proof the Vikings would rather look forward than back.

"It's a new year," Gerhart said. "It's a new beginning. You can see it by the dedication everybody has out here. the way everybody's working. We feel like we're better than a 3-13 team. We know we're better than that. So we're working hard this offseason to put it behind us. New year, new slate. This is our year."

Our year? What exactly did Gerhart mean by that?

"We can't do much worse than we did last year," he said. "We have talent. We're a good team. Second year in this system, a full offseason coming up, I really think we can make great strides. We play in a tough division, against some of the top teams in the league. We feel we're right there with any of them. We're looking to go out and prove that to people."

Update: The Vikings cut two players, waiving tight end Daniel Hardy and guard Butch Lewis.

Also, Arizona All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald tweeted today that his brother, Marcus, would be taking part in the Vikings' rookie camp this weekend. Said the tweet from @LarryFitzgerald: need u all 2 do me a big favor and wish my brother @MFitzgerald best of luck as he pursues he's dream this weekend with Minnesota Vikings.


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