Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson started taking contact in practice Monday for the first time since he hurt his knee last December, but head coach Leslie Frazier is waiting to see how Peterson responds to formulate a plan for his role in the regular-season opener Sept. 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We put him through some things today. We told our defense to hit him a little bit and see how he responded. I'm anxious to talk with him and see how he did," Frazier said after Monday's practice.
"I told (running backs coach) James Saxon to tell him that we were going to be contacting him today and if the guys hit him too hard to make sure he let me or let Saxon know. He told James Saxon, ‘Hey, you tell coach you better tell those defensive players to buckle up.' I knew it would get him fired up."
Frazier had a smile on his face most of the time while talking about Peterson's first contact, but the star running back won't play in the preseason finale Thursday. The Vikings and Peterson have long targeted his return as the regular-season opener.
Peterson wasn't available for comment after practice but is expected to talk to reporters Tuesday. He said last week he wanted extensive contact whenever the coaching and medical staffs would allow it.
"I want a lot of it. It'll be good for me, you know, so I'm just excited to see how I feel when I get hit or to run over somebody just to get back physical," Peterson said last Tuesday. "I'm a physical running back so I want to get that contact."
Peterson tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee Dec. 24 and had surgery to repair them on Dec. 30. He started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but has slowly increased his workload over the last two weeks, taking as many as 18 carries in a practice.
The hard-charging running back said last week his biggest challenge when he gets into game action will be slowing down and being patient.
"I'm just so anxious," he said. "Just staying calm and staying in my element and just letting the game flow and come to me is going to be the most important thing.
"I've been preaching to myself. I've been repeating and trying to brainwash myself, teaching patience, patience, patience. 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 and the goal, like I said, is not going to change. So I'm just going to be patient and continue to do what I can do to make sure that I'm able to reach that goal."
The Vikings were waiting until they felt Peterson was strong enough to make quick adjustments and reaction to the action in front of him. Now that he tested that for the first time Monday, Frazier said it went well.
The coaching didn't allow any hits to Peterson's legs.
"There were some good, hard hits, but nothing to the ground – just guys thudding him," Frazier said. "It seemed like he handled it pretty well, but I'm sure he'll be a little bit sore tomorrow when he wakes up."
So far, Peterson hasn't experienced any pain or swelling in the knee as he has ramped up his participation in practices, according to Frazier.
"He's been able to handle the workload," Frazier said. "He's doing a lot of things that you like to see him do and today was another step in the process."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
'Buckle up:' Peterson takes contact
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