Updated: August 13th, 2012 8:44pm
Zulgad's Roundup: Coach not surprised by Adrian Peterson's progress

Zulgad's Roundup: Coach not surprised by Adrian Peterson's progress

SportsWire Daily

Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports

Signup!
by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Adrian Peterson defied the odds by returning to the Minnesota Vikings' active roster only 7½ months after having surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee against the Washington Redskins on Christmas Eve.

While coach Leslie Frazier stressed that this is only part of Peterson's rehab process and that when he will play in a game and absorb his first contact has yet to be decided, the fact the Pro Bowl running back should be in pads on Tuesday for practice in Mankato is still a major accomplishment.

Normally, this type of injury will sideline a player for eight or nine months.

Still, Peterson's progress does not surprise Frazier.

"Maybe if it was someone else," Frazier said. "But with Adrian, he's unique and he's always been that way in the time that I've known him in his career. He's special in so many ways and we all know the severity of the injury and what's required to come back.

"But in his case, just to see the steps we're taking along the way and how each hurdle that was put before him he always met the challenge throughout this rehab. So this is the next step. (I'm) looking forward to seeing how he responds."

Frazier said he, "never put a timetable," on when he expected Peterson to get back on the field, adding that he simply listened to what the team doctors and athletic trainers told him.

"I never put in my mind, 'Well, we'll shoot for August whenever or September whenever,'" Frazier said. "I never put a number on it just because of who he is and also it's a process. This doesn't mean anything other than this is the next step in his rehab. But I never in my mind put a number saying that by, 'Week 2 of the preseason, let's try to get him ready to go.' ...Adrian is so unique. ... You just shake your head."

Frazier can't be blamed for being extremely cautious when it comes to actually getting Peterson on the field. The Vikings must be very careful with Peterson, who began training camp on the active/physically-unable-to-perform list and thus was only eligible to do work off to the side with the athletic training staff.

There is no question that Peterson is ultra-competitive and wants to get back as soon as possible. He also clearly has great genetics going for him that enables him to heal quicker than most.

But the last thing the Vikings want to do is speed up Peterson's timetable too much and put him on the field before he's ready.

Given how things are playing out, it would not be surprising if Peterson saw limited action and took contact on the knee for the first time in the Vikings' third preseason game on Aug. 24 against San Diego at the Metrodome.

Frazier did not discount having Peterson play, and other starters in as well, in the fourth preseason game on Aug. 30 at Houston, but that is the game in which most regulars are held out.

It's hard to believe the Vikings would put Peterson on the field with anything but the first unit.

Learning experience

Second-year safety Mistral Raymond is expected to start alongside rookie Harrison Smith on Friday in the Vikings' second preseason game against Buffalo at the Metrodome.

Raymond, a sixth-round selection in 2011, struggled at times Friday as he and Jamarca Sanford started in the Vikings' exhibition opener. 

Raymond's biggest miscue might have come on San Francisco's opening drive when he took a poor angle on Brandon Jacobs on what turned into a 23-yard gain for the 49ers running back.

Alan Williams, the Vikings' first-year defensive coordinator, defended Raymond.

"The safety position is a tough position to play because you are the back quarterback of the defense," Williams said. "The Mike (linebacker) is the one who give the calls, but the safeties are the guys that have to make everyone right so to speak. With him it's just every situation is going to be new for him.

"There will be some wrinkles from week-to-week and we just need to make sure that we get him enough reps in practice, and in ball games to get him up to speed so that every situation is just not new to him, that he has some experience with them. Ultimately though he is athletic enough and bright enough that when the situations are new that he can adjust and adapt to them well."

Jacobs is 6-foot-4, 264 pounds and Raymond is 6-1, 202 pounds. That caused some to think that Raymond might not have had much interest in trying to bring down Jacobs. But Williams was having none of it when asked if Raymond was willing and strong enough as a tackler.

"Yes, without a doubt," Williams said. "Willing, not a problem whatsoever, strong enough, not a problem. Experience is just going to be the thing that he needs to come along with."

See you in Rochester

Tsuyoshi Nishioka isn't the only member of the Twins organization who will be heading to Rochester.

General manager Terry Ryan said Monday that he also plans to visit the team's Triple-A affiliate sometime in the near future. Part of that trip will be made to see how the struggling middle infielder does after a brutal three games last week in Cleveland.

Nishioka was sent to Rochester on Monday when third baseman Trevor Plouffe was activated from the 15-day disabled list.

Nishioka, who was signed by the Twins before the 2011 season and has cost them around $14.5 million total, has turned out to be a complete flop as a major league player.

He was recalled after the Twins sent Danny Valencia to the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 5.

Nishioska, who was shipped out by the Twins early in spring training this year, went 0-for-12 at the plate in Cleveland, was charged with three errors at second base and made numerous other mental mistakes. That included losing a ball in the sun and then walking away from it.

This came after Nishioka hit .245 with a home run and 24 RBI with the Red Wings.

"He played well at Triple-A," Ryan said. "He struggled here, we all know that. I'm not going to go beyond that. But that's not unusual for players. Sometimes they have to go back and we've sent (Liam) Hendriks back and we sent (Chris) Parmelee back."

The difference is that while Hendriks (23 years old) and Parmelee (24) are considered players on the rise, Nishioka is 28 and was expected to be major league ready when he arrived last season.

"All we can do is keep working at it," Ryan said. "He certainly was better at Triple-A then we've seen up here. It's obvious or they wouldn't recommend him.

"(Twins manager Ron Gardenhire) stated it quite a bit here recently. He's got to slow the game down. He just gets in too much of a hurry. Some of those routine plays that he struggled with, there's no reason for that."

Nishioka sat on the bench all last weekend as the Twins were swept by Tampa Bay at Target Field. Part of it was because of how poorly he played in Cleveland, and part of it was the club likely did not want to subject him to a home crowd that wouldn't have taken kindly to seeing him on the field.

For that reason, it will be interesting to see if Nishioka gets called up in September when major league rosters are expanded.

"He could be (recalled) if he earns it," Ryan said. "All he has to do is earn a promotion. When he came up, they were saying that he was playing well and he was playing short and second well, taking good, competitive at-bats, running the bases. We got him up here and the game sped up a little bit on him."

If Nishioka was younger that might not be a major issue, but given what was expected of him and how little he has provided, one would think the Twins have to be prepared to sever ties with him after this season.

End game

• New Britain Rock Cats Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia went 10-for-22 (.455) with five doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI, four runs and six walks and had a .955 slugging percentage last week, earning the Twins prospect Eastern League Player of the Week honors at the Double-A level.

• The Twins entered Monday's game having turned a big-league leading 123 double plays. The next closest teams were Cleveland and Toronto with 103.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
5327