The fact that the Minnesota Vikings opened training camp on Friday by placing Adrian Peterson on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list should have come as a surprise to exactly no one. To not take such a cautious approach with their best and highest-paid player would have made bad business sense. Whether or not he thinks he's ready to go full-throttle (and he clearly does) should not and does not matter. They have to protect Adrian from Adrian.
Predictably, Peterson groused when head coach Leslie Frazier delivered the verdict.
Peterson stood on the side and watched during the Vikings' first walk-thru of training camp.
"He put up a fight," Frazier said after announcing the PUP designation. "He said 'Coach, don't hold me back. Let me get out there.' He wants to get out there, but we've got to be smart and we need to see him do a few things and then make a determination. But he had his way he'd be getting involved today."
Love the feistiness, Adrian. Now go stand over there.
During Friday morning's walk-thru Peterson stood with Frazier and others off to the side, ball cap pulled down tight presumably to mask his frustration. His impatience was palpable. Peterson could be seen chatting with players, occasionally stretching his legs and even simulating a few first steps as if he were about to burst through a hole in the line. But for the most part there he stood.
During the Friday's afternoon practice, Peterson went over to a side field and did individual drills with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman. He worked up a good sweat, but he didn't get to hit or be hit. That's good news for Vikings fans – even those who made the trek to Mankato in hopes of getting to watch Peterson do something more fun.
Peterson can be removed from the Active PUP at any time, but that won't happen soon no matter how much the Pro Bowl back pleads his case. I'm guessing we have a better chance of seeing snow on Mankato's practice field before we see Adrian cleared to do anything beyond individual drills on a Mankato practice field.
Looking at Adrian and watching him work out on the side, it's clear to see he's in pristine condition. As superhuman as he is, or as he thinks he is, it does nobody any good to put him out there in practice this soon after knee surgery. The coaches have a pretty good idea of what he can do. Peterson knows the playbook. He knows all the drills. He knows his teammates. He's the best at what he does. Even if he weren't coming off the torn ACL there wouldn't be much of a reason to work him very hard in training camp. Yes, he needs reps to get his timing down just like anyone else, but it's not as if he's in a position of having to win a job like so many others in Vikings camp.
Players talk about the importance of being "in football shape" as opposed to merely "in shape." If Peterson's powers of recuperation have him declaring himself ready to roll eight months after reconstructive knee surgery, it will probably take him five minutes to get into football shape.
While the Active PUP move was not a surprise, a regular season PUP move would be. Barring some unforeseen setback, there's little chance in my mind he'll open the season on the PUP and be forced to miss the first six games of the season. You think he put up a fight to take part in training camp, what if Frazier tried telling him to watch games for a month and a half?
That being said, I believe we will see plenty of Toby Gerhart early in the season, as he takes as many as half the carries Peterson would have otherwise taken. How long such a timeshare lasts is anyone's guess at this point, but I'll bet Adrian will have some thoughts on the matter when the time comes.