No setbacks for Adrian Peterson, but no guarantees for opener either
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings continue to increase Adrian Peterson's workload in practice, but they're still not ready to say the star halfback will be ready for the Sept. 9 opener against Jacksonville.
Coach Leslie Frazier confirmed on Tuesday the Vikings have decided not to play Peterson at all in the preseason, giving them more time to evaluate his recovery from left knee reconstruction.
Frazier stressed there have been "no setbacks" and said Peterson was understanding when informed of the decision on Monday.
"We just feel like more time with him in practice for some of the things that we're doing and the progression of getting him ready for this season is the right thing to do," Frazier said.
"That doesn't guarantee that he'll be ready for Jacksonville. But what it does is it gives us more time to throw more things at him in practice and get him prepared. Hopefully, there won't be any setbacks. There haven't been up to this point. He's continued to progress. Everything has gone better than can be expected up to this point. ...
"We talked with him about it. For the first time in our conversations, he kind of seemed as if he understood. He even used the word 'patience.' And I was like, 'Wow. Finally, it's clicking.' So, he's on board. Everybody's on board. This is the right thing to do, and we'll just see how he progresses over the next couple weeks here."
Frazier and Peterson had said all along they hoped he'd get some work in the preseason to gain confidence in the knee and get closer to game speed. As recently as Sunday, Frazier wouldn't rule out Peterson playing in Friday's exhibition against San Diego.
Asked what changed that mindset, Frazier said the Vikings "just felt like there were more things we wanted to give to him in practice than we could by trying to get him ready for a game -- say, for instance, this Friday night. There are a few more things that we'd like to be able to do in a controlled setting, rather than a game situation."
Specifically, Frazier repeated a theme throughout Peterson's recovery -- that the Vikings want to make sure he can protect himself.
Peterson got 18 carries in Monday's practice, Frazier said, but the defense remains under strict orders not to touch him.
"Part of it (is) how he responds when the guys put a pad on him. How does handle that?" Frazier said. "When bodies fall down in front of him, how does he handle that? Does he stop and plant like the Adrian of old, or does he just come to a standstill and then he's liable to take a real serious hit?
"There are some things that we want to see and we'll put him through some paces over the next few days and just see how he responds. We gave him a lot more work (Monday) and the results were very good. We really loaded him up, and just talking with him (Tuesday), he had no residual effects, no negatives. So, that was encouraging."
Peterson, 27, tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the knee on Dec. 24 at Washington. The preseason finale on Aug. 30 at Houston would fall eight months to the day after he underwent surgery -- a key benchmark some NFL teams use in recovery.
Sitting Peterson for both games means he'll be 10 more days into his recovery. But Frazier said the timeline "wasn't as big a factor, just because of how he has progressed along the way.
"He's been so far ahead in his rehab all along and even the things that he's doing in practice, and you guys are witnesses as well -- there is nothing that makes you feel like you've got to pull back just watching him move around.
"But the more things we can give to him in the time that we have leading up to the season opener, the better we'll have as far as tape is concerned to be able to evaluate what's the best thing to do -- whether to let him go in that first game or to hold him back a little bit longer.
Frazier said he spoke on Monday night to Peterson's father, Nelson, who has been encouraging Adrian to listen to the trainers and doctors as well.
The Vikings still haven't set a date when Peterson will get him for the first time.
"There's going to be a point where we want to bang him up a little bit. I don't know if we'll take him to the ground," Frazier said. "But we definitely have talked about just letting him feel a little shock to see how he responds. So, we want to do some things in practice to see how he responds to a hit and then go from there."