Notebook: Vikings want Adrian Peterson to get action in preseason
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Step by step, Adrian Peterson is getting closer to returning to action, though it's still unclear just how long the Minnesota Vikings plan to wait before letting their star halfback practice.
During Saturday's practice, Peterson formed a two-man team with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, who called the plays and handled quarterback duties while Peterson took handoffs and caught passes out of the backfield.
"That's what we're trying to get done," coach Leslie Frazier said, "just to simulate somewhat some of the things he would do in drill work to see how he responds and one of the keys is what happens the day after. We'll keep monitoring, keep adding a little bit more and see how he responds and make a decision at some point."
Peterson tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on Dec. 24 at Washington and had surgery six days later. He pushed to practice when training camp opened on Friday, but the Vikings placed him on the active/physically unable to perform list, buying more time to evaluate him and continue building strength in the leg.
Frazier said the next hurdle is "getting him in positions where he has to react, as opposed to being able to see things and then make decisions. We want him to sometimes just have to react what he sees, just like he would in a game, where he doesn't know a guy's going to fall in front of him, but he has to find a way to get out of the way and protect himself."
Saturday's work with Sugarman wasn't Peterson's first football-specific work since the injury. He spent time earlier in the offseason working out with Buffalo Bills quarterback Vince Young in Houston, where he did a good chunk of his rehabilitation work.
"I was able to get a little competition out of that, doing that with those guys," Peterson said. "But it's different when you're doing it every day. You definitely get more work."
Frazier said there is a plan in place to continue ramping up Peterson's workload, provided he keeps feeling good the next morning, but wouldn't say whether he thinks activation is days or weeks away.
What's certain is Peterson has always said his goal is to play in the Sept. 9 opener against Jacksonville, and the Vikings would prefer he gets some work in the preseason first.
"Now, will that happen? I don't know," Frazier said. "We'll see how he progresses. But ideally, you'd like to see him get some carries at some point in the preseason just for his benefit, where he can gain some confidence and get a feel for where he is and where he needs to be by the first game of the season.
Waiting for kicks
The Vikings headed into their off day without having rookie place-kicker Blair Walsh perform in a competitive setting. That figures to change in the first padded practice camp on Monday afternoon.
"He knows being the only kicker here, he's putting a lot of pressure on himself to improve," special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. "He's a very conscientious young man. He's a very hard-working young man. It's extremely important to him, and he competes with himself."
A sixth-round draft pick, Walsh has tweaked his timing on Priefer's advice after a rough senior season at Georgia. The Vikings chose not to bring two kickers to camp because they wanted to build chemistry between Walsh, holder Chris Kluwe and long snapper Cullen Loeffler, but Walsh still must convince them not to look outside for an alternative.
"The preseason games will be the high-pressure games," Priefer said. "He needs to approach those like they're a playoff game for him, because that's going to get him prepared at the end of the day."
"Man, he seems to be really a kid that's hungry to get on the field," Frazier said of Reed, a seventh-round pick out of Arizona who made the 53-man roster but was inactive his entire rookie season.
"These practices along with what we did back in the spring -- he's showing up quite a bit, so I'm anxious to see him when we put the pads on. But he's a different player than the rookie that we had a year ago. He has really into his own, playing with some confidence."
The Vikings are continuing to look at Reed as an end as well as an inside nickel rusher.
Look both ways
"We want to get a good look at both of those guys so we have a good feel for each of them," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said.
Frazier said on Friday he hopes to identify his starting right guard by the third preseason game on Aug. 24 against San Diego, with Chris DeGeare potentially getting a chance, too.
The Vikings worked out two defensive backs after Saturday's practice -- perhaps in light of some nicks that have already hit the position.
Josh Robinson is day-to-day with a hamstring strain suffered in Friday's practice, during which another cornerback, Nick Taylor, apparently injured a shoulder.
"We're going to get some tests and find out how severe that shoulder is and we're going to hold him out until we get some results back," Frazier said. "But we'll know a little bit more after (Sunday)."
Two linebackers, Marvin Mitchell and Corey Paredes, hobbled off at various points in Saturday's practice. Receiver Jerome Simpson also gave the Vikings a scare when he went down after a knee-to-knee collision with Zack Bowman, who also was shaken up.
"Anytime a guy grabs his knee in our profession, yeah, you hate to see it," Frazier said. "But glad to see him get back up and finish practice."
Tight end Mickey Shuler (heel) was activated from the active/non-football injury list after passing his physical and made one of the better catches in practice.
Receiver Stephen Burton (toe) is "getting better," Frazier said, but remains on active/NFI and is considered day-to-day.
• QB Christian Ponder had another efficient day passing, completing 12 of 14 passes in 11-on-11 drills, with one of the two incompletions batted out of TE Kyle Rudolph's hands by S Mistral Raymond. Joe Webb was 7-for-9, Sage Rosenfels 2-for-5 and McLeod Bethel-Thompson 4-for-5.
• The surgically repaired knee that slowed WR Michael Jenkins in the offseason apparently is no longer an issue. "There was a period there where he was pretty far behind, but he caught up," Frazier said.
• Players are off Sunday, and Frazier said the collective-bargaining agreement prevents him from telling them what time they must return to Gage Hall. "I can only suggest what time they have to be back," Frazier said, declining to reveal the suggestion. Practice resumes with a walkthrough at 10:30 a.m. Monday.