Adrian Peterson returned to the playing field Sunday just 8½ months after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee Dec. 24.
Although Peterson said he was hoping for more than the 17 carries he got in the Minnesota Vikings' 26-23 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, he exceeded outside expectations on the number of times he would rush the ball.
"I understand from their perspective, how they're looking at it, but from my perspective I knew I was ready to play," Peterson said. "Ultimately that all doesn't really matter, you know — the carries. We won."
The Vikings did win and Peterson scored both of their touchdowns, but the question after his debut back in the starting lineup is how the Vikings will proceed from here. They entered the game expecting to give him 10 to 15 carries. Three of his carries came in overtime, when he gained a combined 26 of his 84 rushing yards.
Did his production Sunday warrant an even bigger role in the coming weeks?
"I think we still have to be somewhat cautious. Now, Adrian won't want to hear that, but we still have to keep a rotation going between he and Toby (Gerhart)," Frazier said
"I don't think we can at this point say, ‘Adrian, look forward to carrying that ball 20 to 25 times.' I don't think we're at that point quite yet. But for the game I wouldn't have been able to say that he would carry 17 either. He's very unique in so many ways, but I think we'll go into it going forward knowing that he's coming off a major knee surgery and it will only be his second game since that surgery and full participation. We'll be somewhat cautious."
Peterson already seemed to be lobbying for his return to the workhorse role he filled last year when he ended his postgame press conference.
"I'm feeling good right now. My legs are loose. Seriously, I'm feeling really good," he said. "I'm ready to carry the load."
Peterson played in 32 of the team's 59 offensive snaps – 54 percent – Sunday, but the Vikings continued to monitor how he was feeling throughout the game. Running backs coach James Saxon continued to prod him, but just how honest the ultra-competitive Peterson would be during those conversations is up to debate.
The Vikings also prepped Peterson that he would be asked about his comfort level throughout the season opener.
"We had talked about this beforehand that that conversation had to be going on all throughout the game – how you doing, how are you coming along, are you fatigued, are you feeling soreness? So it was constant communication," Frazier said. "With every conversation, it was always positive. There were some moments where we did bring him out. He got a little bit winded, but he continued to want to participate and there were no ills effects from that. He did a great job."
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's back, but Vikings still cautious
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