It’s not official, but Adrian Peterson’s set to return to the field for the Minnesota Vikings. On a Friday afternoon radio appearance with Dash Radio, Peterson declared he’s “ready to roll” when the Vikings take on the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.
“Being out there confirmed I’m ready to roll,” Peterson said, per the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer. “I’ve had my head in the playbook.”
Peterson suffered a torn meniscus in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers and returned to the practice field this week. With three practices under his belt and a titanium brace on his right knee, Peterson feels comfortable enough to join his teammates for Minnesota’s final playoff push.
For Peterson to play, the team will need to officially activate the 31-year-old running back and make a roster move. No such action’s been taken, but the Vikings did designate Peterson to return from Injured Reserve earlier this week and could realistically move him to the active roster by Sunday morning.
The bucket handle tear Peterson sustained in September usually bears a four-to-six month recovery window, but Peterson’s always defied injury norms. After tearing his ACL on Christmas Eve in 2011, Peterson returned the following year to join the 2,000-yard club and carry the Vikings to the playoffs.
His most recent injury required midseason surgery, but Peterson indicated in November he’d be willing to return as early as Week 15 (12/28 vs. Indianapolis) or Week 16 (12.24 at Green Bay). According to ESPN’s Ben Goessling, league sources told the site that Peterson’s knee was 90 percent healthy in November — a clear sign he’d return at some point before the end of the 2016 season.
Any team would welcome a healthy Peterson back to the lineup, but No. 28’s return doesn’t come without doubts. As Chris Tomasson points out, Peterson’s last game against the Colts — his second back from the ACL tear in 2012 — was a dud; the hobbled Peterson rushed for 60 yards on 16 carries. And in his last five games, Peterson’s carried the football 78 times for 166 yards (2.1 yards per carry).
Despite his pedigree, Peterson’s play has dipped in recent years. Blame it on age or wear-and-tear, but Peterson’s problems aren’t an isolated issue. No Vikings running back is threatening defenses behind Minnesota’s porous offensive line, and the failures run deeper than Peterson’s purported decline. Add to that his introduction into Pat Shurmur’s shotgun-heavy system, and there’s no knowing what kind of performance we’ll get from No. 28 — if he actually plays — on Sunday.
“There’s still a lot of stuff that remains the same and just a couple wrinkles in there that are a little different,” Peterson said on Monday when describing the switch from Norv Turner to Shurmur. “When you have a different offensive coordinator, they have a little different approach…but we’re still pretty much the same offense that we had previously, just with some new twists.”
With a slim chance of making the playoffs and looming contract decisions to make this offseason, Peterson’s return for the Vikings could be short-lived. The franchise hopes it’s enough to push Minnesota into the playoffs for a second straight season.