It’s like getting that prized possession you were sure was gone for good returned to you.
You’re so happy just to get it back, but at the same time frightened something else might happen to it.
That’s what the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff and fan base are feeling these days as running back Adrian Peterson returned a little less than 71/2 months after he was operated on to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
Peterson was in full equipment and taking part in some of the 11-on-11 drills in his second day back on Tuesday with one rather large condition on his involvement.
No one was to put a hand on him. And the penalty for doing so was rather severe.
“The rules are simple,” safety Jamarca Sanford told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Do not touch 28. If you touch him, you’re cut.”
Of course Peterson was doing his own lobbying to ease those rules somewhat but for the time being, head coach Leslie Frazier will not be swayed.
No contact means no contact. He told his defence that before they took the field on Tuesday and then again just before Peterson took his first handoff during 11-on-11 drills. For that Frazier marched right into the defensive huddle and repeated his orders.
Eventually, once the anxiety over health dissipates, Peterson will get his way and he’ll have the same target on his back that every defensive player puts on an opposing offence, but not just yet.
By the end of practice on Tuesday, Frazier was already sounding almost sympathetic towards his defence.
“We have to adhere to it,” Frazier said of the no touch AP rule. “But one of the things (the defence) told me was, ‘Coach, you know how he runs. What about protecting us?’ ”
It will be interesting to watch and see how long he enforces his own rule.
Even with Calvin Johnson catching footballs and Matthew Stafford throwing darts, the Detroit Lions offence, to be really exceptional, needs to mix things up every once in a while with a dependable ground game.
Injuries hurt them immensely in that regard last year with both Jahvid Best and then rookie Mikel Leshoure going down with injury.
On Wednesday the Lions got Leshoure back in practice and taking part in drills but plans for Best’s return appear to have taken a step backwards.
The team was talking in the off-season that Best would be back in June but now ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Best will likely begin the year on the PUP list (physically unable to prepare) and if that is the case, he won’t be able to practise until the team plays six games.
Best suffered a season-ending concussion last October.
SOME NEW INJURIES
The hard-luck Denver Broncos appear to have lost another would-be starter. This time it’s defensive end Jason Hunter who suffered a torn triceps injury after taking on a blocking sled. Hunter had already moved past incumbent Robert Ayers on the depth chart before the incident. While the prognosis is at least a two-month recovery, the same injury has been known to cost a player an entire season. Hunter will be replaced by either Ayers, the team 18th overall selection from the 2009 draft or Derek Wolfe, the Broncos top selection in the draft this season ... The Dallas Cowboys will have to get by without all-pro tight end Jason Witten for the pre-season and possibly the first game of the regular season. Seems Witten suffered a lacerated spleen when he took a hit in Monday’s exhibition with the Raiders. The Cowboys immediately went out and signed TE Harry Flaherty to help out. Flaherty is the nephew of head coach Jason Garrett as well as tight ends coach John Garrett ... Already unsure when they can expect Rashard Mendenhall back, the Pittsburgh Steelers are now looking at the possibility of losing Isaac Redman for an undetermined period of time. Redman told reporters Wednesday he is going to have an MRI on his groin to see what is causing him so much discomfort ... Another Steeler, linebacker James Harrison isn’t waiting around any longer. He had his troublesome left knee scoped on Wednesday. The 10-year vet has been bothered by some soreness behind the knee cap. By doing the surgery now, the hope is Harrison will be able to start the season when the Steelers open up against Denver.
AND A LITTLE MORE NEWS
Not that we didn’t think head-butting one’s wife would bring all kinds of bad karma, not to mention legal ramifications, but Chad Johnson’s week just keeps getting worse. Cut from the Dolphins after the news went public about the dust-up with his wife, Johnson learned Wednesday that a three-week old endorsement deal with sports drink makers Zico was also being pulled ... It’s been three weeks and there has hardly been any noise made that the NFL’s 2011 leading rusher Maurice Jones Drew is holding out. That doesn’t bode well for the former UCLA back ... Another holdout, Pittsburgh wideout Mike Wallace is currently living in teammate Ike Taylor’s house in Orlando and using his car. The arrangement was made so Wallace would be able to work out with trainer Tom Shaw.
Cam Newton did it. So too did Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder.
Now it’s Jake Locker’s turn.
The quarterback draft class of 2011 was stacked and Locker was actually the second QB taken behind Newton. But there were four quarterbacks including Newton who nailed down starters’ jobs with their respective clubs in their rookie years.
Locker spent all of last season toiling and learning behind Matt Hasselbeck. In fact Locker did not start a single game last season coming on in relief for Hasselbeck in five of them.
But an intense battle in training camp could come down to Friday’s game. If Locker does well, the belief is the starting job will be his.