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Updated: September 9th, 2012 10:29am
He's back: Adrian Peterson to play for Vikings in opener vs. Jaguars

He's back: Adrian Peterson to play for Vikings in opener vs. Jaguars

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS - Just over eight months after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, Adrian Peterson will play in an NFL game.

The Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl running back is among the 46 players active for Sunday's regular-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Metrodome. This comes after multiple weeks of discussion about whether the Vikings would allow Peterson to suit up for the opener.

It also means Peterson has reached his goal of returning by the first game of the 2012 regular season. Peterson will get the start and the Vikings planned to introduce their offensive starters.

Coach Leslie Frazier said last week that a decision on whether Peterson would play would be made on Friday night or Saturday morning. However, Frazier reversed course last Friday and said the decision on Peterson would be made on game day.

If it was a game-day decision, it wasn't made during early warm-ups when injured players are put through workouts. Peterson never came on the field before full warm-ups began. An NFL source did say Saturday that no decision had been made at that time.

Peterson, who tore his ACL and MCL in the Vikings' victory last Dec. 24 at Washington, began training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list. He was brought off that list on Aug. 12, meaning he could practice with his teammates, and there was talk that the Vikings might try to work Peterson into a preseason game.

That didn't happen and Peterson was told in a meeting with team officials and doctors that the best thing would be for him to continue to sit out of game action.

While Peterson has not taken any hits to his lower body during practices, Frazier did increase the intensity of his workload last week in an attempt to see whether Peterson was ready to go.

Toby Gerhart is still expected to carry the bulk of the workload at running back against the Jaguars. Frazier made it clear from the outset that if Peterson did play Sunday he would be limited.

Because he was injured in the second-to-last game of the season, Peterson will have only missed one game because of the ACL and MCL tear.

He underwent surgery last Dec. 30. Peterson, who led the NFL in rushing in 2008, has rushed for 6,752 yards on 1,406 carries with 64 touchdowns in his first five seasons with the Vikings. His rushing touchdowns are the most in Vikings history.

The Vikings' inactives for Sunday's game include quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson; wide receiver Jarius Wright (ankle); cornerback A.J. Jefferson; safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle); linebacker Marvin Mitchell (ankle); linebacker Audie Cole; and guard Mark Asper.

The Jaguars' inactives include wide receiver Brian Robiskie; cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring); linebacker Daryl Smith (abdomen); offensive lineman Josh Beekman; defensive ends George Selvie (knee) and Austen Lane (foot); and defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton.

Kyle Bosworth will start at outside linebacker in place of Smith -- that's a significant blow to the Jaguars' defense -- and Cox and Rashean Mathis will be replaced as the starters at cornerback by William Middleton and Aaron Ross, respectively.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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