EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been telling himself to be patient in his return from major knee surgery.
The lesson is sinking in now that Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier has told the four-time Pro Bowl running back he will be held out of the entire preseason.
Patience has been the key all along, and Frazier confirmed Tuesday that Peterson, who underwent major knee surgery Dec. 30, will not play in the team’s final two preseason games. Frazier said no determination has been made for Peterson’s availability for the season opener on Sept. 9 at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Peterson finally agreed with the patient approach when he was told by Frazier on Monday night that he won’t make a preseason appearance in a game.
“I’ve been preaching to myself,” Peterson said Tuesday about being patient. “I’ve been repeating, just trying to brainwash myself. Patience, patience, patience because the last couple of weeks I haven’t really been hearing the things I wanted to hear. So I had to be patient, patient. I’m understanding it, and we’re on the same page. The goal’s not going to change. I’m just going to be patient and continue to do what I can do.”
Peterson and Frazier had expressed hope the star would get some action in preseason games. But the final step of having to take contact and deal with the mental side of his recovery now will need to come during practice.
“We’re going to hold him out of these preseason games,” Frazier said. “It’s just a part of the progression. We think he’s doing a good job. There are no setbacks. It’s not the reason that we’re doing it. We’d still like more time with him in practice for some of the things we’re doing. And the progression of getting him ready for the season, it’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t guarantee that he will be ready for Jacksonville, but what it does is it gives us more time to throw more things at him in practice and get him prepared.”
Peterson was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 12 and has been ramping up his involvement in the Vikings’ offense for the past week. Minnesota will try to simulate as much contact as possible while still being cautious with its star back.
“Hopefully there won’t be any setbacks,” Frazier said. “There haven’t been up to this point. He’s continued to progress. Everything has gone better than can be expected up to this point. But it’s a decision we made. We talked with him about it. For the first time in our conversations, he seemed as if he understood. He even used the word patience. I was like, ‘Wow. Finally it’s clicking.’ He’s on board. Everybody is on board. This is the right thing to do. We’ll just see how it progresses over the next couple of weeks here.”
Playing in the season opener has been Peterson’s goal since his surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee stemming from a hit against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 24.
“I’ve been saying it the whole time,” Peterson said. “My goal is the same. I want to be out there for that first game. So, we’ll see.”
Early in training camp, while rehabbing intensely on the side fields with the team’s trainer and strength coach, Peterson expressed hope he’d get into a preseason game to clear the last mental hurdle for his recovery: taking a hit from a defender and being tackled.
Frazier also mentioned he’d like to see Peterson in a preseason game, but the coach wasn’t making any promises. Even after activating Peterson from the PUP list, Frazier said it was just the next step in the process for Peterson and preached caution on expecting the running back to return to action at a specific time.
“I know there are a lot of fans that are very optimistic and excited about seeing him back, but for us it’s just a part of the process,” Frazier said Aug. 12. “It doesn’t mean a whole lot other than he’s done a great job in his rehab up to this point. Off to the side with our strength coaches, with (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman and his staff.
“Our medical staff explained to myself and (general manager) Rick Spielman that the next step for him in the process would be to get integrated with his teammates, and that’s just what it means. He’s done everything he can do on the side; now it’s the next step in the process. It doesn’t mean in the future he’s going to be lining up with our team in the opening game. We don’t know that. We have a long time to determine that. This is just another step in the process.”
Peterson said Sunday he hadn’t felt soreness in his surgically repaired knee since being activated and reiterated then he hoped to play in the preseason.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind,” Peterson said. “To be honest with you, it wouldn’t really matter either way. I feel like I’ll be ready to roll.”
But the Vikings have preached patience from the beginning and are sticking with it.