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Updated: August 14th, 2012 1:36pm
Leslie Frazier implores Vikings 'D' to be careful with Adrian Peterson

Leslie Frazier implores Vikings 'D' to be careful with Adrian Peterson

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier stood in front of his defensive players on Tuesday morning and delivered a clear message:

Whatever you do, don't hit the guy in the No. 28 jersey.

In fact, don't even touch him.

"I definitely talked with them about it, and now we've got to adhere to it," Frazier said, hours before star halfback Adrian Peterson was set to practice in pads for the first time since undergoing left knee reconstruction on Dec. 30.

"One of the things they told me was, 'Coach, you know how he runs. What about protecting us?' He's not going to change his running style, we all know that. But we have to be smart when he's out there and they know that and we'll be conscious when he's in the huddle."

The plan was to give Peterson just a handful of snaps on Tuesday afternoon, then gauge how his body and the knee respond when he wakes up on Wednesday morning.

The Vikings haven't tackled anyone to the ground in practice for the past two weeks, but Frazier wasn't taking chances with a player who received $36 million in guarantees on a contract extension less than one year ago.

"For me to stand up in front of our defense (on Tuesday) and talk to them about the fact that he's going to be in the huddle and this is how we have to approach it -- there aren't many players you'd do that with," Frazier said. "But he means so much to our organization, and we're just in the baby steps of what has to be done with what he's doing on the field. So, we just have to tread lightly early on."

Against his wishes, Peterson opened camp on the active/physically unable to perform list and wasn't activated until Sunday. He is now about 7½ months removed from surgery and almost surely won't be ready for his usual workload in the Sept. 9 opener against Jacksonville -- although Frazier isn't ruling anything out.

"There's nothing to say that he could," Frazier said. "But I know if there was many things that could be said in 7½ months he'd be prepared to be doing what he's doing now. So, you don't want to really put parameters on his rehabilitation. We want to just let it go and see where it takes us.

"We have some ideas. Our medical staff has talked all along about what this process would like and what's necessary, and we're in that process right now, so I think we have to still take it day to day."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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