Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has a Grade "Two-Plus" tear of his lateral collateral ligament, according to head coach Brad Childress, that will keep him out this Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders. However, Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman said there is "absolutely no question about it" that Peterson will play again this season.
Peterson, a rookie who is the league's leading rusher, took a hit to the inner part of his right leg in the third quarter of the Vikings' 34-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers and went to the ground writhing in pain.
"That pain was horrible. I don't know if you've ever experienced a pain where you don't want nobody to touch you – you just want to be still for a few minutes to calm down – that was the kind of pain it was," Peterson said Monday while standing and talking to reporters without any noticeable discomfort. "Not knowing what to expect, I was just praying to God, please don't let it be anything serious."
A Grade 3 tear is a complete tear, but Peterson will not require surgery, although he is expected to miss at least this coming game, Childress said. Adam Caplan of Scout.com and FootballInjuries.com estimated the way it was being described would likely put Peterson out of action for at least a few weeks, maybe three to five weeks.
"I'm real hesitant to put a timeline on it," Childress said. "He wanted to go back into the game yesterday, but we didn't feel that was a prudent thing to do."
Sugarman said that the Vikings' clinical diagnosis on the field and on the sidelines quickly alleviated concerns that he might have torn his anterior cruciate ligament, a season-ending injury that would have required surgery.
"He didn't really ever say he felt a pop," Sugarman said. "He felt a burning sensation in his knee. … He doesn't have an unstable knee. When he walks around, it doesn't feel like it's giving out."
After conducting an interview on Monday, Peterson walked away without a noticeable limp, and Sugarman said there was no swelling or effusion (blood in the knee joint) and that the running back has full range of motion in his knee. It also helps that the outside of the knee, where the injured lateral collateral ligament resides, is further supported by three other structures that help stabilize that area of the knee, including the hamstring.
"When you don't know what the injury is and you know it's a knee, especially being a running back, that's something that will definitely make you a little worried," Peterson said of his thoughts before his 9 a.m. magnetic resonance image test. "What kind of eases that was that I didn't really have a lot of swelling, so I was positive about that. I was just waiting to see what the MRI was going to show."
It could have been much worse, according to Sugarman, if Packers cornerback Al Harris made contact closer to the front of Peterson's knee.
"He's lucky. If (Harris) is 30 degrees in front with (Peterson's) foot fixed, we're talking about a very significant injury today. So he's very lucky that this is all he has and he's going to be just fine," Sugarman said.
Of course, with the Vikings all but out of the playoff chase with a 3-6 record, the biggest intrigue of the season was whether Peterson could capture this year's rushing title or break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards from 1983 or overall rushing title of 2,105 yards from 1984.
"He's not going to feel anything running straight ahead, but obviously he's not a straight-ahead guy," Childress said.
Peterson entered the Packers game with1,036 yards, but that shot to the knee left Peterson writhing in pain on the field. Childress said he didn't think it was "a particularly malicious hit." Peterson walked to the sidelines with assistance, and the Vikings put a neoprene sleeve on his knee while Peterson tested it out on the sidelines. He did not return to the game.
Peterson has 1,081 yards rushing on 169 carries (6.4-yard average) after his 45-yard performance against the Packers before leaving in the third quarter with his injury. The next closest rusher in the league is Pittsburgh's Willie Parker, who has 873 yards on 212 carries (4.1-yard average).
Peterson had just set the single-game rushing record with 296 yards the previous week against the San Diego Chargers.
"You can have your best game one week and the next week can have your worst game. That's the National Football League for you," Peterson said, adding later. "I was hoping it wasn't my ACL, MCL, anything serious like that. I was praying that it wasn't nothing too bad."
Said Childress: "The good news is that the knee otherwise is stable, it's isolated to that ligament. PCL, ACL, meniscus – all the other structures are good in that knee and I'm told that's a good-healing ligament."
Peterson will now go through a rehabilitation process.
"If it was a lineman, maybe he's braced up and he plays this week – maybe he might," Childress said.
"I think if it was (guard Steve Hutchinson or center Matt Birk), you'd put them in a brace and they'd play this week because they're in such a short little area," Sugarman said. "(Peterson) is an aggressive, violent runner who puts his foot in the ground and cuts. He's just not physically able to do that yet. You've got to let the trauma settle down."
Instead, Chester Taylor will re-assume the starting role he had before Peterson was named the starter last month. Taylor has averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 61 carries so far this season.
Peterson Has ‘Grade 2' LCL Tear
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