If I really wanted to drive page views and outrage with today's VikesCentric post I'd laud the Vikings for getting Adrian Peterson back on the practice field a mere 228 days after surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament. I'd urge them to continue their reckless aggression and thrust him into preseason games post haste, letting him play extensively to get his timing and confidence back. Then I'd sit back and watch the carnage unfold in the comments section below.
Peterson has been itching to get on the practice field in Mankato.
However, taking such a stereotypical "columnist" stand for the sake of stirring the pot isn't going to happen. For a franchise with such a rich history of bad timing, bad luck and bad outcomes I find it more than a bit alarming the Vikings are acquiescing to Peterson and letting him back on the practice field so soon.
Why tempt fate?
Sure, he made it through today's practice unscathed. That's great. But what if he hadn't? Yeah, I get that you can say that about any practice or game and about any player. You risk injury every time you step on a football field. However, this is their franchise player we're talking about here – the fulcrum of their offense and potential Hall of Famer, not to mention their highest-paid player. I know it's easy for me to suggest to Vikings coaches and trainers to let Peterson stew on the sideline, champing at the bit to get on the field. I'm not the one getting the ear-full from Adrian.
But that's exactly what they should be doing.
Furthermore, the notion of Peterson doing anything beyond standing on the sideline sipping a Gatorade during any preseason games is just foolish. Head coach Leslie Frazier was adamant that his defense not take Peterson down in practice; I doubt he'd be able to make that same request of the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 24 for preseason game three – the exhibition contest in which it is rumored Peterson could see some playing time.
Why put Peterson in harm's way when the easy option is to just let him continue to rehab and strengthen the knee in the weight room? Send him back for more of those Wii Fit video games in the trainer's room and keep him out of the pretend games of August.
What's more, I'd purposely ease Peterson back into the mix once the real games begin next month. The Vikings have a capable backup in Toby Gerhart and they should be able to defeat or at least hold their own against their first two opponents (the Jaguars and Colts) without Peterson receiving his normal workload.
I'll say it again: if Adrian is as superhuman in his recovery as they say he is they shouldn't be so concerned about getting him playing time so soon. A genetic freak like this should be able to get his timing down quickly and get back into football shape in a flash.
The potential downside of rushing Peterson back far out-weighs any incremental benefit in his recovery that they could derive from getting him back on the field now.