The AP Rules
Adrian Peterson is off the PUP list and back at Vikings practice in Mankato. But that doesn't mean he'll be taking any dangerous shots anytime soon.
Peterson is recovering from a devastating knee injury suffered last year against Washington on Christmas Eve. Tuesday was his first day of practice wearing pads since the injury. Wearing pads, however, does not mean he actually needs them.
Safety Jamarca Sanford told the Star-Tribune: “The rules are simple. Do not touch 28. If you touch him, you’re cut.”
While Peterson practicing is a hopeful sign for people who bleed purple, it doesn't mean he is necessarily all the way back. Jerry Rice was on ESPN's "NFL Live" and said:
“I cracked my patella. I feel that I rushed myself back to the football field. And I think that with Adrian Peterson, he’s doing the same thing. Because we are accustomed to being out there with the guys, sweating with the guys, fighting on the football field. And if you’re not able to do that you just don’t feel connected. And that’s the reason why I rushed back. I hope he doesn’t do the same thing.”
That is advice Peterson should probably take. He is blessed with the greatest combination of speed and power in the NFL. But on a still-fragile knee, he likely won't have that speed and power. Even more worrisome, evidenced by the "Don't Touch 28" rule, the joint is probably still fragile. A setback in training camp or a preseason game would be devastating.
While it seemed puzzling at the time, drafting Toby Gerhart has turned out to be a fantastic move. He doesn't have Peterson's speed, but he has just as much power. Gerhart has averaged 4.5 yards in 190 career carries. That is not as good as Peterson's 4.8, but it's virtually the same as last year's leading rusher, Maurice Jones-Drew.
Sitting the bench or standing on the sideline in street clothes is the worst place for a star running back. But don't look for the Vikings to hurry him back to a team that still appears to be in a rebuilding phase.
Watch Adrian Peterson's Tuesday presser