Updated: December 26th, 2011 12:49pm
Adrian Peterson also has meniscus damage, will target 2012 opener

Adrian Peterson also has meniscus damage, will target 2012 opener

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings say they're hopeful about having Adrian Peterson on the field for the first game of the 2012 season.

But head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman urged caution about that timeline at a media conference on Monday, saying he wants to take Peterson's recovery from a significant knee injury as a unique case, rather than comparing him to any other player.

"We're going to hold a goal to have him ready for the first game, although I ask you for permission to please allow Coach (Leslie Frazier) to update that process as we go through the protocol," Sugarman said. "The goal is around eight to nine months. Around eight months is going to be probably our first game. We do think that the potential is to have him ready for the beginning portion of next season."

Sugarman confirmed a 1500ESPN.com report that Peterson tore the medial collateral ligament in addition to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on a hit from Redskins safety DeJon Gomes in the third quarter of Saturday's win at Washington.

Peterson also suffered "some injury" to both the medial and lateral meniscus -- a non-displaced injury, Sugarman said. His posterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligaments are normal.

"Most importantly, all the chrondral surface in his knee is also non-injured," Sugarman said, "and that's a very positive thing for this injury."

Surgery could occur within seven to 10 days, although that depends how quickly Peterson regains range of motion and the swelling subsides. The surgeon has not been chosen, Sugarman said.

If Peterson undergoes surgery the first or second week of January, he would be less than seven months removed from surgery when training camp begins in late July and almost exactly eight months removed by the season opener in early September.

"Instead of comparing Adrian to any other player at any level that's ever had an anterior cruciate ligament (injury), and they happen every day," Sugarman said, "I really would like Adrian to stand on his own merit, because Adrian is, I feel, very unique, and if there's anyone that's going to be able to recover from this injury, it's him.

"You may ask, why? It's because Adrian has a great work ethic. Adrian has the DNA to heal quickly, which he has shown in he past. He certainly will have the desire and the mental toughness to be able to get through the rehab process, which will take months and months as you know. I think if anyone can better quickly and safely in that time period, it would be Adrian Peterson."

The Vikings plan to promote rookie Caleb King from the practice squad to take Peterson's place on the 53-man roster for Sunday's season finale against Chicago, Frazier said, adding that Peterson asked him to relay a message that fans stay positive and keep the prayers coming.

Frazier echoed Sugarman's optimism about Peterson's availability for the start of the 2012 season.

"Obviously, everybody responds differently to surgery, along with rehab," Frazier said. "But the way he attacks things and how optimistic he is, we all are hoping that will be the case. If for some reason along the way there's a setback for whatever reason, I'll be informed of it. But I'm pretty optimistic that that goal is a realistic goal."