Now that he's made good on a vow to recover from a devastating Christmas Eve knee injury in time for the Vikings' opener, here's what else he's planning:
To run hard and well deep into his 30s.
To play so well the escalators in his new contract make it worth $100 million by 2017, by which time he'll have signed another big deal.
To leave football on his terms, which are these:
Adrian Peterson wants to be the best to ever play the game.
After last Sunday, do you doubt him?
Eight months after undergoing ACL surgery on his left knee, Peterson rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns in Minnesota's 26-23 win over Jacksonville.
“If it was any other person I might be floored,” said Dusty Dvoracek, a former University of Oklahoma teammate who himself had two ACL surgeries. “But Adrian is like no other player I've seen. He defies all the rules.”
Dvoracek, now a sports talk host for KREF-AM 1400 in Norman, called Peterson's comeback the story of Week 1 in the NFL, saying it was unfortunately overshadowed by Peyton Manning's return and the debut of Robert Griffin III.
“I was a little disappointed,” Peterson said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. “I felt I could have done a little bit better. But since we got the win I wasn't too hard on myself.”
Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier intended to give Peterson “limited exposure” in the opener. The coach says he plans to limit his carries early this season, including Sunday when the Vikings play at Indianapolis.
“I feel I can handle my normal workload,” Peterson said. “But I understand their point of view, where they're coming from early in the season. They want to play it safe, go with their formula. I'll be ready to do my job when I'm out there.”
‘HE ONLY KNOWS ONE SPEED'
A former OU quarterback who admits to cheating on his handoff footwork to keep Peterson from running over him was awed by his ex-teammates' return.
“Just to be able to play that first game was really something,” said Paul Thompson. “But to turn it on the way he did was really remarkable.”
Remarkable, but not surprising. Dvoracek calls Peterson the best athlete at OU “from Day One when he was 18 years old.” Thompson calls him one of the NFL's toughest players.
“People have talked about him and Chris Johnson,” Thompson said. “I don't think it's close. I guarantee you any defender would rather go up against Chris Johnson or any other back than to take on Adrian Peterson.
“He's going to run through you. That's the way he practices. When we were in shorts and helmets defenders didn't get in his way because they knew he would put his head down and put it right through your chest. He only knows one speed.”
Peterson's bulldozer style increases risk of injury, although Peterson often dishes out more punishment then he absorbs. Yet coming off major knee surgery he has no plans to change it.
“I'll be even more aggressive,” Peterson said. “There aren't too many guys that like tackling me up high. They try to take my legs out. When those situations present themselves I'm going to lower my shoulder pads, make them think twice about going for my legs.
“There will be times I'm going to run out of bounds because there's nothing else to gain. But outside of that I'm going to play the same way I've always played the game.”
Injuries sidelined him twice at OU. After finishing as a Heisman Trophy runner-up as a freshman, he was slowed by a high ankle sprain as a sophomore. As a junior he came back from a broken collarbone in time to play against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Yet Peterson carried the tag “injury prone” into the 2007 NFL Draft. That's one theory why he slipped to Vikings and the No. 7 overall pick.
But in the NFL, Peterson has been durable. Before last season Peterson had missed only three games his first four pro seasons, two his rookie year with a sprained knee and one in 2010 with a bruised thigh. He played in all 16 games in 2008 and 2009.
“A.D. is always going to be 1,000 miles an hour all the time,” said former OU fullback J.D. Runnels. “In a walk-through he's joggin. His half speed is everybody else's three-quarter speed. At full speed he's going faster than everybody.
“You're not going to be able to hold him back. I knew they wouldn't be able to keep him out of that first game.”
UNPARALLELED WORK ETHIC
Backup Vikings running back Toby Gerhart realized Peterson's goal of playing in the opener was realistic in May when he watched Peterson race side by side with speedy wide receiver Percy Harvin up a grassy hill.
OU teammates noticed that type of work ethic the day the nation's No. 1 high school recruit arrived on campus.
“Some people blessed with a lot of athleticism and God given talent sometimes don't have the tendency to put in the maximum effort because everything has been given to them naturally,” Thompson said. “That's not the case with him at all.
“Running sprints at the end of practice, he was always leading the line. It was the same in off-season workouts. For him to have that injury and look the way he did, his genetics and work ethic is unparalleled.”
The rehab process extends beyond the knee healing. Experiencing scar-tissue pain is common.
Peterson said the biggest challenges were getting his range of motion back and being patient. For a change, he wasn't able to attack something full throttle.
“This was just another test set in front of me,” Peterson said. “My actions and my faith helped me pass the test. Whatever comes across your path in your life's walk if you stay true you'll bounce back better than ever. It all depends on the work you put into it.”
Modern-day ACL surgery literally makes some players as good as new. But it often takes a player a full year to compile customary stats.
Peterson has averaged 1,350 rushing yards on 280 carries his first five seasons. He sees no reason why he can't pick up where he left off.
“No time wasted. I feel I can be as productive as my second or third year when I went for 1,700 (yards),” Peterson said. “As the season goes along it's only going to get stronger. People have their opinions. But I know what I'll be able to do once I'm back to 100 percent.”
‘THE BEST TO EVER PLAY'
Last Sunday Peterson became the Vikings' all-time leading rusher (6,836 yards).
His goals are much higher.
Selected the 2007 Rookie of the Year, Peterson led the NFL in rushing the following season. His plan is to win more rushing titles and play longer than most Pro Bowl backs.
“When they compare players they look at long-term durability,” Runnels said. “What are they doing at year seven? What are they doing in year eight, years nine and year 10? Those are the type of things Adrian looks at.”
One game into year six, Peterson, 27, needs to average a shade over 1,000 yards this season and the next two seasons to get to 10,000 before age 30.
Twenty-six NFL backs have compiled 10,000 rushing yards. Only 11 got there before age 30.
Only seven have compiled 13,000 rushing yards. Peterson is halfway there.
“They have this thing running backs don't last too long — six, seven, eight years,” Peterson said. “I want to be one of those guys like Darrell Green or Ray Lewis. I'm going to be one of those guys. I'm going to decide when I stop playing this game.
“I want to have people say, ‘Wow, he's 35 or 36 years old and he's still able to run the ball like this,' things that you've never heard of. That's what I want to accomplish.”
Peterson signed a seven-year $96 million extension with $36 million guaranteed last season. The deal can get as large as $100 million with escalators and runs through the 2017 season when he'll be 32.
The way Peterson views it he'll be ready for another contract.
“I want to be the best player to ever play the game,” Peterson said. “If I set my expectations any lower than that I would be cheating myself. I'm not in it just to be the best running back. I'm in it this to be the best player in the game.
“Why not? There's not a higher accomplishment in the National Football League than to be the best player to ever play the game. That's what I'm going after.”