Notebook: Adrian Peterson not ruling out long-shot bid to open camp
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Adrian Peterson believes he could ready to get on the field in a limited capacity when the Minnesota Vikings open training camp on July 27 in Mankato.
"I imagine myself definitely getting stronger and doing a lot on the side," the star halfback said on Thursday, "and I also imagine myself being able to get out there and be involved, too. That's my imagination. ... I feel like I'll be able to do something."
But all signs continue to point to Peterson continuing his rehabilitation from knee reconstruction on the camp/physical unable to perform list, preserving the possibility of transferring him to reserve/PUP for the season's first six weeks.
Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Dec. 24 at Washington and had surgery six days later. His rehab has remained on track, but it's still far too soon to say whether he can meet his goal of a Week 1 return.
"It's early right now," coach Leslie Frazier said. "But in my mind right now, it'd be better to be doing things on the side (in camp) until we know and feel comfortable that he can get out there and interact with the players."
That almost certainly means Peterson will be placed on camp/PUP, from which he could be activated whenever the Vikings' medical staff decides he's ready.
Transferring Peterson to reserve/PUP on cutdown day in September would sideline him for at least six games, meaning he wouldn't be eligible until Week 7 against Arizona -- a tough sell for a prideful player who wanted to run less than two months after surgery.
Asked if it'll become more difficult to manage Peterson's expectations as camp approaches, Frazier said, "It'll definitely become more difficult, because we're experiencing it right now with him. He would like to be ahead of where the doctors want him to be, and you just have to be careful, because we have time.
"I tell him that all the time -- 'we've got time.' No sense in rushing things. But you're right, once we get closer to games and preseason, I'm sure he'll want to get out there and just try to do some things. But we'll have to be smart. We'll have to be smart for him."
Peterson began running in late March, went through drills in front of reporters about three weeks ago and was on display again on Wednesday, when he raced teammate Percy Harvin up a hill during the Vikings' first open organized team activity practice.
The next step is "(j)ust becoming more explosive, and that comes with getting more strength in this leg and being able to cut the way I want," Peterson said. "I think here soon I'll be able to be as explosive as I was before."
According to Peterson, his lateral skills, flexibility and range of motion are improving, and he remains "definitely confident" he can meet his goal of playing in the Sept. 9 opener against Jacksonville -- roughly 8½ months after suffering the injury.
The recovery process generally is pegged at six to nine months, but head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman has stressed repeatedly every player's timetable is different.
"I don't study other people," Peterson said. "People heal differently. If I listened to all the critics, I'd be out a year and a half, two years. So, I'm just doing my thing. I put my faith in God and he's been carrying me through so far."
Rookie receiver Greg Childs missed the first week of OTAs with a calf strain that isn't related to the patella tendon injury that hampered him the past two years at Arkansas, Frazier said.
"He actually did it at our rookie minicamp and so it's kind of been lingering," Frazier said.
The injury that kept center John Sullivan out of Wednesday's practice is "just a thigh bruise," Frazier said. "He'll be fine. He got kicked, knee to the thigh."
The Vikings will resume OTAs next week, with a session open to the media on Wednesday. They'll practice three days the following week, too, then return for the mandatory minicamp June 19 to 21.
That's more offseason work than they got during last year's lockout, but less than they had under the old collective-bargaining agreement, which allowed enough time on task for many teams to install their full offensive and defensive schemes before training camp.
"You kind of have to go moreso with the basics of what you do and try to hit some different situations," Frazier said. "You don't have the number of OTAs that you once had. But we still will be able to get a lot of what we want installed in training camp. We'll be able to get it done during these OTAs."
If you build it ...
Most of the Vikings roster as well as the coaching staff and other team officials participated in the team's annual playground build at Sheridan Arts Magnet School.
Construction began at 8 a.m., with Vikings college scouting director Scott Studwell in his usual place at the center of the action. Players arrived after the morning OTA practice and were mobbed for autographs by hundreds of students.
"It brings (players) out a little bit and, I'm sure, reminds them of being in this age group, doing what they do," said Frazier, who helped cut the ribbon along with Peterson, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and others.
"So, there are a lot of benefits for our being able to come out. I know the kids get a thrill out of it, but I think our players enjoy it, too."