Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has made no secret that he expects to recover from his torn ACL in time to take the field Week One. But the Vikings’ trainer is emphasizing the importance of exercising caution.
Eric Sugarman, the Vikings’ head athletic trainer, says he’s willing to be the bad guy who makes Peterson mad by slowing down the rehab process if that’s what’s best for Peterson’s recovery, even though Sugarman thinks it’s great that Peterson is optimistic about being on the field when the Vikings play the Jaguars on September 9.
“I love Adrian,” Sugarman told the Star-Tribune. “But let’s make this clear: I’m still not going to be quoted as saying he’s going to play in the first game. That’s not fair. I don’t know that. . . . He’ll keep throwing that out there. And good for him. That’s great. That’s obviously our goal, to get him playing the first game. But only if he’s functionally safe to do it. This is our franchise. We can’t be foolish about this.”
Peterson has normal motion in his knee, can run fast in a straight line and doesn’t have any swelling, but Sugarman cautions that he’ll still have to get a lot better to play in an NFL game in four months.
“Right now, when he tries to stop on a dime, he looks like he’s on ice,” Sugarman said. “That’s normal. Deceleration is the hardest thing for those guys. Now we’re starting to pound all that over the next couple months — function and deceleration. That should just take us right to where hopefully he needs to be.”
But if Peterson isn’t where he needs to be, Sugarman will hold him out, no matter how badly Peterson wants to be on the field.