Vikings hope Peterson will return for start of 2012

New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith (91) holds back Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian...

New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith (91) holds back Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) for a loss of five yards during the second half of their NFL football game in Minneapolis December 18, 2011. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

Reuters

, Last Updated: 1:15 PM ET

Vikings hold hope Peterson will return for start of ’12 season

The big question facing the Vikings is when running back Adrian Peterson will be able to return from his torn ACL, which also included some damage to the MCL in his left knee.

While Peterson’s type of injury typically takes 8-10 months of rehab following surgery, Sports Illustrated reported the damage to his knee is similar to what Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker suffered in 2009 and what running back Edgerrin James dealt with in 2001 with the Colts.

Welker returned in seven months, while James was out nine-and-a-half.

“Wes Welker’s rare,” Frazier told Sports Illustrated on Sunday. “But I talked to Adrian on the plane on the way home last night. He’s down, of course. But he will attack his rehab viciously. He is such a strong-minded guy. We won’t know everything about the damage until the surgery is done, but we think if everything goes perfectly, Adrian will be back to play at the start of next season. I think he’ll turn out to be one of those case studies people look at when they want to see how a guy rehabbed to come back strong.”

The Vikings snapped a six-game losing streak against Washington on Saturday, but the victory was marred when Peterson went down on the first play of the second half.

“Oh Lord,” Peterson said when asked what he thought when safety DeJon Gomes caved in his left knee. “I just knew something bad happened.”

Indeed.

Peterson not only is a once-in-a-generation running back, he’s the player the Vikings hope to build their entire future around. He’s also the player they gave a seven-year, $100 million extension to on the eve of this season.

Now, the Vikings (3-12) are looking at the possibility of playing part or all of the 2012 season without him while wondering if he’ll ever be quite the same again.

They also could head into the offseason wondering who their quarterback will be next season. Rookie first-round draft pick Christian Ponder has regressed and was knocked out of Saturday’s game with a concussion suffered one play after Peterson’s injury. Joe Webb came in and was electric once again as he directed four consecutive scoring drives in the comeback win.

Besides losing Peterson and Ponder, Saturday’s game also proved costly because of what the victory did to the team’s draft positioning. Before the win, the Vikings, Colts and Rams all were tied with two wins. With two losses and a season-ending win by the streaking Colts at Jacksonville, the Vikings might have come away with the No. 1 overall pick based on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker with the Rams.

Now, a win at home against the Bears could drop the Vikings as low as sixth overall.

The No. 1 overall pick could have fetched either Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck or quite the bounty of picks to rebuild one of the worst teams in Vikings history. Experts have speculated next year’s No. 1 overall pick will bring at least three No. 1 picks and two No. 2 picks in a trade.

In the right hands, that many picks could produce a dynasty. Just ask the Cowboys, who built their dynasty of the 1990s with the Herschel Walker trade that netted three No. 1 picks and three No. 2 picks from the Vikings.

So the Vikings won a game. But they lost their franchise player and an opportunity to land either Luck or the motherload of picks.

 


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