Adrian Peterson is being labeled "without question" a game-time decision for the Vikings' regular-season opener Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
However, if the Vikings' star running back does play it will be in a limited role.
"We recognize that if he's able to get in this ballgame it'll be with limited exposure," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We'll talk about it as the week goes on and even if it's a viable option to let him play."
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.
"He's done a good job from the time we allowed him to practice. We just want to see – the game takes on a whole different mindset for everybody," Frazier said. "Even the level of practice changes, the intensity. We've got to see him and how he gets through some things from a mental and physical standpoint."
Peterson starting taking contact in practice for the first time last week, but the coaching staff didn't want him taking any contact on his legs and didn't want him to be tackled to the ground.
Peterson said two weeks ago that staying patient was a challenge.
"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. Frazier said to this point his return to practice has gone well.
"You're trying to determine as we're putting a game plan in, how is he from a mental standpoint and picking things up, but also physically when we get on the field, some of the things we're going to ask him to do, see how he responds … catching the football, certain runs that we're going to want him to practice so that we can gauge if he's ready to line up against an opponent."
Despite Peterson lobbying to push up his return to different points in his comeback, Frazier said he will take the emotion out of the decision for Sunday.
"You really have to hone on what's best for him, what's best for our team. Adrian is not just another guy on our team. He is, in so many ways, the face of what we try to do so we have to be able to see the big picture when it comes to him and that's the way we'll approach it."
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.
Peterson will be limited if he plays Sunday
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