Vikings' Adrian Peterson is as strong and fast as ever

After suffering a devastating knee injury at the end of last season, former Oklahoma running back is on pace to lead the NFL in rushing this season.
by Michael Baldwin Published: December 10, 2012
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photo - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson looks up to the scoreboard toward the end of the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 23-14. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson looks up to the scoreboard toward the end of the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 23-14. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Adrian Peterson lowered his shoulder, plowed over a defender, bolted toward the sideline and raced down field for a big gain.

It's happened so frequently this season defenders want to know the Minnesota Vikings running back's secret.

“I've had several guys after the game ask me, ‘What are you on? I need some of that,'” Peterson said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. “I don't take it personal they imply I'm juicing or taking steroids. That makes me feel good inside.”

You can understand why a linebacker or safety might feel Peterson has a special potion to possess superhuman traits.

How is it possible a running back who tore his ACL last Christmas Eve can lead the NFL in rushing?

How is it possible Adrian Peterson looks as strong and as fast as ever?

“I was telling some of the younger guys on the team that haven't seem him a lot, ‘You're watching something very special here,' ” Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway told the Los Angeles Times. “This isn't a normal athlete. He's a guy that's just a little bit different.”

A lot different. Former University of Oklahoma teammates labeled Peterson a freak.

Barring an unexpected development, Peterson should win his second NFL rushing title. With four games remaining, Peterson has rushed for 1,446 yards. He owns a 308-yard lead on Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.

Compiling six consecutive 100-yard games, highlighted by a season-high 210-yard outing last week against Green Bay, Peterson is on pace to rush for 1,928 yards, which would shatter his career high of 1,760 when he won the 2008 league rushing title in his second season.

“It would mean a lot, especially coming off an ACL injury, to lead the league in rushing,” Peterson said. “You never know what (is possible). MVP? Comeback Player? There are so many different things that could happen. It would let me know all the workouts I put in paid off.”

A week after his gruesome injury, Peterson's torn ACL was replaced by a graft from his patellar tendon, anchored by two screws.

When he left the hospital, he vowed he would be ready for the season opener. Eight months later, he rushed for 84 yards in the Vikings' opener despite being held out of preseason games.

But surely even Peterson is a little surprised to post a career-best season after suffering a major knee injury, right?

“Not at all,” Peterson said. “If you were around during rehab and saw how intense I was working out, the grind to get back just to play at the start of the season, you would understand. I'm not surprised. I expected all this to happen.

“My body is holding up well. Each week I feel I'm getting stronger. I feel like I'm better than I was last year before I had the injury. But my left leg is still stronger than my right leg. It's almost there but not quite. When that heals, I'll be stronger and faster and be more explosive.”


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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