Will the real Adrian Peterson return from injury?
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is helped off the field after tearing his ACL on Saturday. (AFP)
If there is one thing we know about the NFL, it is that the career-expectancy of a top-flight running back is measured one season at a time.
With that in mind, have we seen the last of Adrian Peterson? Oh, Peterson will be back. Be sure of that.
He suffered a devastating knee injury in what was a meaningless game at the end of a lost Vikings season and the first reaction of anyone who saw the replay was to grab his own knee in painful sympathy.
Peterson tore his ACL and his MCL, the medial and lateral meniscus (cartilage) and suffered muscle damage as well.
Surgery is expected within the next week and he will then be out of commission for eight or nine months. He may miss the start of next season.
But will the guy who emerges from months and months of rehab torture be the same slashing running back who signed a seven-year, $100-million contract extension in September?
The same guy who has been the best running back in the league the past five years, with 64 TDs and 6,752 yards?
Everyone was quick to point to Wes Welker, who rebounded from a similar injury without noticable depletion in production.
But Welker is a receiver, plying his trade for the most part in the open field, not the trenches where running backs must work.
“Wes Welker’s rare,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told Sports Illustrated.
“But I talked to Adrian on the plane on the way home. He’s down, of course. But he will attack his rehab viciously. He is such a strong-minded guy. We won’t know everything about the damage until the surgery is done, but we think if everything goes perfectly, Adrian will be back to play at the start of next season.
“I think he’ll turn out to be one of those case studies people look at when they want to see how a guy rehabbed to come back strong.”
That could be wishful thinking on the part of a coach with a guilty conscience.
Some folks around the NFL are wondering why Peterson, who was previously injured badly enough (high ankle sprain) to be a questionable starter on Saturday, was in this game against Washington at all.
What was to be gained?
One critic was Charley Casserly, a former NFL GM who is an analyst for CBS Sports.
“As GM, I would have gone to the coach and suggested we drag his rehab out for the rest of the season,” wrote Casserly. “Winning a game or two here at the expense of losing your best player is not worth it.”
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