Peterson tells Vikes their no-preseason plan is OK

The Minnesota Vikings have a better idea about how to finish

preparing Adrian Peterson and his surgically repaired left knee for

the season.

The plan, simply, is more practice.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday his change of mind about

handing the ball to his recovering star running back in a preseason

game.

Frazier originally said he wanted Peterson to experience the

full contact of such a setting before the real season begins, but

he has backed off.

Peterson actually agreed this time.

”My goals are still the game,” Peterson said. ”I look forward

to being back the first week” of the regular season.

That Peterson, a fierce, relentless competitor who has lobbied

for more playing time seemingly since the day he was drafted, was

satisfied with the decision was as sure a sign as any the Vikings

(29th in the AP Pro32 rankings) are making a wise move.

”There are no setbacks. That’s not the reason we’re doing it,”

Frazier said. ”We just feel like more time with him in practice

with some of the things that we’re doing and the progression of

getting him ready for the season, it’s the right thing to do.”

The opener is Sept. 9 against Jacksonville, and Frazier again

declined to guarantee that Peterson will be cleared to play that

afternoon.

But there is little benefit to the team to assure that at this

point, unless the goal was to assuage the anxieties of fantasy

football league owners.

Frazier instead sounded intent on tempering expectations and

reiterating the importance of caution, even if the 27-year-old’s

participation against the Jaguars has carried almost an air of

inevitability throughout his rehabilitation work this summer.

”Everything has gone better than can be expected up to this

point. But this is a decision we made. We talked with him about it.

And for the first time in our conversations, he kind of seemed like

he understood,” Frazier said. ”He even used the word `patience.’

And I was like, `Wow. Finally. It’s clicking.’ He’s on board.”

Frazier also said Peterson’s father, Nelson, has encouraged him

to listen to the coaches and trainers as the end of the recovery

comes closer. And Peterson himself has been perhaps his best

adviser.

”I’ve been preaching to myself. I’ve been repeating it and

trying to brainwash myself, teaching patience, patience,

patience,” Peterson said. ”Because the last couple weeks I really

haven’t been hearing the things I wanted to hear, so I have to be

patient. Patient. But I’m understanding it, man, and we’re on the

same page.”

Peterson had surgery Dec. 30 to fix tears in his anterior

cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament.

”He’s been so far ahead in his rehab all along,” Frazier said.

”Even the things he’s doing in practice, there’s nothing that

makes you feel like you have to pull back just from watching him

move around. But the more things we can give to him in the time we

have leading up to the season opener, the better.”

Though the defense is still prohibited from touching him,

Peterson ran the ball 18 times in the full team portion of Monday’s

practice.

Frazier said he experienced no problems or side effects. Soon,

before Sept. 9, the no-contact ban will be lifted to gauge

Peterson’s ability to cut and properly maneuver around the

tacklers, essentially the final evaluation of a running back’s ACL

recovery.

”When some of the guys put a pad on him, how does he handle

that? And when bodies fall down in front of him, how does he handle

that? Does he stop and plant as the Adrian of old, or does he just

come to a standstill where he’s liable to taking a really serious

hit?” Frazier said.

The best way to do that is in the controlled environment on the

practice field, rather than exposing him to the risk of a freak hit

in a preseason game, perhaps from some linebacker trying to make

the team racing in at the last second.

”The more things we can give to him in the time that we have

leading up to the season opener, the better we’ll have as far as

tape is concerned to be able to evaluate what’s the best thing to

do – whether to let him go in that first game or to hold him back a

little bit longer,” Frazier said.

The sooner they let him go – and let the defense come at him –

the better for Peterson.

”I’m just excited to see how I feel when I get hit or to run

over somebody. … I’m a physical running back so I want to get

that contact,” he said.

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