EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have a better idea about how to finish preparing Adrian Peterson and his surgically repaired left knee for the season.
The plan, simply, is more practice.
Coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday his change of mind about handing the ball to his recovering star running back in a preseason game.
Frazier originally said he wanted Peterson to experience the full contact of such a setting before the real season begins, but he has backed off.
Peterson actually agreed this time.
"My goals are still the game," Peterson said. "I look forward to being back the first week" of the regular season.
That Peterson, a fierce, relentless competitor who has lobbied for more playing time seemingly since the day he was drafted, was satisfied with the decision was as sure a sign as any the Vikings (29th in the AP Pro32 rankings) are making a wise move.
"There are no setbacks. That's not the reason we're doing it," Frazier said. "We just feel like more time with him in practice with some of the things that we're doing and the progression of getting him ready for the season, it's the right thing to do."
The opener is Sept. 9 against Jacksonville, and Frazier again declined to guarantee that Peterson will be cleared to play that afternoon.
But there is little benefit to the team to assure that at this point, unless the goal was to assuage the anxieties of fantasy football league owners.
Frazier instead sounded intent on tempering expectations and reiterating the importance of caution, even if the 27-year-old's participation against the Jaguars has carried almost an air of inevitability throughout his rehabilitation work this summer.
"Everything has gone better than can be expected up to this point. But this is a decision we made. We talked with him about it. And for the first time in our conversations, he kind of seemed like he understood," Frazier said. "He even used the word 'patience.' And I was like, 'Wow. Finally. It's clicking.' He's on board."
Frazier also said Peterson's father, Nelson, has encouraged him to listen to the coaches and trainers as the end of the recovery comes closer. And Peterson himself has been perhaps his best adviser.
"I've been preaching to myself. I've been repeating it and trying to brainwash myself, teaching patience, patience, patience," Peterson said. "Because the last couple weeks I really haven't been hearing the things I wanted to hear, so I have to be patient. Patient. But I'm understanding it, man, and we're on the same page."