MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — The NFL season starts for Minnesota on Sept. 9, barely eight months after Adrian Peterson had reconstructive surgery on his ripped-up left knee.
Despite the medical advances that have made comebacks from anterior cruciate ligament quicker than ever, Peterson's return for the opener against the Jaguars was always on an optimistic timetable. But for the star Vikings running back, that hasn't really been a goal.
Belief is more like it.
"Despite what everyone else had to say, that was my vision," said Peterson, who also tore the medial collateral ligament when he was hit during a game last Dec. 24 at Washington. "I knew it was going to be a journey, a path, to get closer to that vision, and I'm closer. I see it. It's closer now. It was far away in the beginning, but I've been working hard and just moving forward.
"So hopefully here in a couple weeks -- here in a couple weeks, not hopefully -- that vision will be right there in front of me in my lap."
Peterson has cleared every hurdle in his rehabilitation either ahead of time or on schedule. As nervous as the Vikings must be -- and as skeptical as some observers around the league might be -- he is probably as capable as anyone of taking the ball right at his tacklers without hesitation in Week 1.
"You don't really want to put parameters on his rehabilitation. You want to just let it go and see where it takes us," coach Leslie Frazier said. "Our medical staff talked all along about what this process would look like and what's necessary. We're in that process right now, so we still have to take it day by day."
Despite the evolution of the league into a passing-dominated game, Peterson is far too valuable for Minnesota (No. 29 in AP Pro32) to risk him getting hit the wrong way in some meaningless drill. He wore full pads in Tuesday's practice for the first time since his injury, but Frazier went out of his way to warn the defense not to touch him.