Q&A with Adrian Peterson: Return to Vikings roster is 'so satisfying'
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Adrian Peterson grinned broadly as he approached reporters after Sunday's afternoon practice, and why not?
It was his first media session since the Minnesota Vikings activated him from the active/physically unable to perform list, on which Peterson never wanted to be placed despite being less than seven months removed from knee reconstruction when training camp began.
Peterson took the first-team reps at halfback ahead of Toby Gerhart during an afternoon practice forced indoors and converted to an hour-long walkthrough because of rain. (He'll be eligible to practice in pads for the first time on Tuesday.)
Afterwards, Peterson thanked those who helped him pass a "true test" since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Dec. 24 and reiterated he remains focused on returning for the Sept. 9 opener against Jacksonville.
The following is a transcript of that session:
Were you hoping to get a little more excitement on your first day?
A little more. But it was good, good work.
What's it mean to be off the PUP list?
Oh, man, it's just the next step. I feel good that I'm off. I can finally get back out here with the guys on the field and just get back to playing, get back into the offense and slowly squeeze back in there. So, I'm just excited I'm off and I can be around the guys and start interacting with the guys on the field.
What's the past 7½ months been like for you?
It's been a true test. When they took me off (Sunday), I just kind of reflected back to the day after surgery and just the process to get to where I'm at now. It's been hard work, not only for me, but from the staff -- Eric Sugarman and his staff and the staff down in Houston, Russ Paine, and just a lot of prayers, giving God his time and keeping my faith. That's really what has gotten me to this point. So, I'm just excited to be back with the guys and finally get rolling.
Les stressed this is just the next step. In your mind, do you feel it's the next step or do you think you're all the way back?
Pretty much what it came to is I've done all I can do as far as training and working out and doing different drills. It was time to get back in the mix and start doing some football activities. So, that's the next step. I'm feeling good. I feel like I'll be able to go out and participate in everything. But I'm going to let these guys do their job and I'm just going to go with the flow.
You're down to the last 10% of this, but it's a pretty big 10%, from getting back on the field to being game ready isn't it?
It is. But I'm excited, man. I was like a kid in a candy store (Sunday) when I came out here and they threw me out there with the first group. Just smiling. I had to kind of calm myself down. I was going a little too fast for a walkthrough in the beginning. But for me, man, it's just so satisfying. I had a lot of people doubt me, a lot of people say this, a lot of people say that. But I kept my faith, kept working hard and now I'm back in the mix, so I can't complain.
Some people are still going to doubt you until they see you back out there.
Yeah, and that is what it is. My mindset won't ever change, so it doesn't matter what everyone around think. I'm just going to go out and do what I've been doing.
What was the conversation like when Les told you you're finally going to get your way and be on the field?
It was something I was expecting. We had a conversation previously. I didn't know exactly when, but I kind of had a time span. I knew around what time, and so after that conversation, I just told them, 'Hey, I'm just going to do what I have to do on the side and make sure that I'm ready to get back with the guys whenever that time comes' and we kind of had a conversation before they left to go to San Fran and I've just been getting my mind right all weekend.
Did you watch the game?
Yeah, I watched the game. I feel like we did a good job, got some good work, got some good stuff on film that we can correct. Toby did a great job toting the ball. I think he had (five carries for 31 yards). The offensive line, those guys did a good job, Christian (Ponder). Guys played good. It's the first preseason game, so you're going and you knocked the rust off, and then you can sit back and see what you can correct and how you can get better offensively and defensively. So, it was a pretty good show for them.
Did it feel like football instead of just running around?
Did it feel like football? A little bit. We're inside in here. Once I get out in the grass with my cleats on and pads on, then it's going to feel like football to me.
Once they told you nine to 12 months of recovery time, how long did it take you to say, 'No, it's not going to be that for me?'
Immediately. In my mind, I was like, hey, I know it's not going to be nine months but I'm just going to control what I can control, and that's working my butt off every day I can and taking advantage of everything, even with the little rehab stuff that I did here in Minnesota and back in Houston, really grinding and getting some good work out of it.
What was the most difficult part of the rehab?
The most difficult part was strengthening my leg. I would say strengthening my leg and range of motion. I really wanted to strangle Eric Sugarman a couple times going through the process of trying to get my range of motion back. It was painful, but he helped me get through it. We got through it together and just the process of strengthening my leg, just looking at my right leg and seeing how massive it was compared to the leg I had surgery on, fighting that and keeping my mind positive that hey, five months from now, it's going to be a different story, six months from now, it's going to be a different story. So, I just kept pushing along the way through the process.
Are you targeting the third preseason game for your return?
Hopefully, I can get some snaps in the preseason. If not, oh well. I feel like I'll be ready to roll either way. So, I'll just see what call they make.
When you set your goal to come back for the regular-season opener, did you think there was any chance you'd play in the preseason?
Yeah, I did. I knew that I could possibly -- I could be ready to roll in the preseason now. Would they play me or not? I didn't really know the answer to that. But I never doubted that I would be ready.
You mentioned people doubting you through the process. How much skepticism did you sense from others throughout the last eight months?
You sense it from people. Of course, just from the media and even people you talk to. Some family not necessarily saying that they're doubting you, but just they're not speaking the same words that I'm speaking and my vision is leading me to see. They're not speaking the same thing. So, with that, I'm with disagreement with it, you know? I know they love me and everything, but I'm in disagreement with it. From that standpoint, that's the way I look at it. But it doesn't matter. I didn't let it affect me, because I had my mind set on what I wanted to accomplish. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. It was going to take work. Faith without work is dead. I had my faith in the right place and I had my mind, my work ethic, my will in the right place. I'm back.