Peterson after hernia surgery: ‘Pretty much 100 percent’

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Last summer, the lasting image of Adrian Peterson was him running the side hills at the Minnesota Vikings’ facilities, intensely rehabbing his surgically repaired knee while the rest of his teammates participated in voluntary workouts.

Minnesota is back with organized team activities this week, another voluntary set of workouts. But the Vikings MVP running back isn’t resting on his 2,097-yard rushing season. Peterson is with his team, and he’s not here because he’s still trying to recover from another surgery.

“I’m pretty much 100 percent,” Peterson said of coming back from February sports hernia surgery. “You know, me knowing my body, I’d like to be a little stronger in some areas. But I’m feeling great.”

And coming back from surgery, Peterson was taking the first-team reps during practice Wednesday at the team’s Winter Park facilities as if nothing had ever happened. The spotlight has shined on Peterson since he was named the league’s MVP following last year’s campaign in which he fell eight yards shy of the single-season NFL rushing mark.

Peterson has gained endorsements and was runner-up to former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders in the annual Madden video game cover vote.

“Yeah, a little more spotlight,” Peterson said. “Last year, I pretty much didn’t have no endorsement deals come through. This year, it was a little different. Last year, some of those were my choice.  . . . But this year the offseason has been a little busy.”

But even during a busier offseason, Peterson rehabbed his way back from surgery and said it was important for team chemistry that he was at this week’s voluntary OTAs.

And with that 2,500-yard goal in his mind, he’s trying to work as hard as he did last season when he came back from major knee surgery.

“For me last year was a true test for me, and it made me realize that I can be working even harder than I was previously, Peterson said. “So yeah, I’ve been working extremely hard with that goal of coming back and being better than I was last year. That’s always my mindset. Finding ways to improve and coming back better than I was the year before.”

Peterson’s presence during voluntary workouts wasn’t lost on Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier.

“The fact that he’s here really kind of helps the rest of our players to understand the importance of this portion of the offseason,” Frazier said, stressing the fact Peterson was the league MVP last season. “We’re grateful that he’s here. Everyone knows what he means to our team, what he means to our organization. His attitude and the way he approaches things is what you want to see if you’re a young player coming in and trying to figure out this league. To be around Adrian, it’s good for our team. It’s good for everybody involved.”

And Peterson isn’t just present. He’s participating in a way he couldn’t last year.

“(Recovering from sports hernia surgery) was a cakewalk compared to recovering from the ACL and what I had to go through to bounce back from that,” Peterson said, later adding: “But I definitely earned a lot more respect for your abdominal muscles, because they work so much of your body. And after that surgery, I was definitely able to feel each area that it affects. So yeah, I definitely got an appreciation for it.”

Peterson played the end of the season, during his epic run of 10 100-yard rushing days in the final 11 weeks, with an abdominal injury. Peterson is nearly back to full strength and says he is lifting more now than before the injury.

“It was a little wear and tear towards the end of the season,” Peterson said. “And as each game came along, I could kind of feel it getting a little worse. But mind over matter. You know? So I just continued to push and dealt with it.”

And Peterson is trying to lead by example; pushing through injuries, surgeries and rehab to lead Minnesota to the playoffs and his presence at OTAs he hopes is an example for the rest of the team.

“Everyone needs to come out and really understand what we’re trying to accomplish as a group,” Peterson said. “And as an individual, you have to make sure you’re preparing yourself through the offseason, the OTAs, to make sure you prepped to come in and play your part in ultimately accomplishing that goal. If everyone has that focus, that’s how you get better.”

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