Adrian Peterson presents major challenge for defense
Adrian Peterson returned from a serious knee injury at the start of the 2012 season, but he conceded this week that he didn’t feel totally confident in the surgically repaired joint until Week 5 and didn’t regain full strength until the start of this season.
Every knee is different. And it’s also important to note that Peterson and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III didn’t have exactly the same injury and they also play different positions. But Peterson’s comments do seem to coincide with the timeframe Griffin’s recovery is following.
“I never really felt like I was 100 percent as far as the power in my left leg,” Peterson said on a conference call with Redskins beat writers this week. “But I want to say around about Week 5 I really felt strong and confident in my leg – well, you know, the strength of the leg – but I still knew I had a little ways to go.”
In fact, Peterson didn’t start making his push for a 2,000-yard season until Week 7 a year ago when he broke out for 153 yards against the Cardinals. That started an eight-game stretch of triple-digit efforts for Peterson, including a pair of 200-yard performances.
“We just tried to monitor his progress all along the way, month by month, week by week, day by day,” Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier recounted. “As the doctors informed us and our medical staff informed us on how he was doing, we would give him a little bit more work on the football field based on what we were hearing from the medical staff. And by the time we got to the regular season, we put him on a pitch count. We didn’t treat him like he was in Week 6 of the regular season because we had scaled things back in the preseason. We didn’t just throw him out there and say, ‘Go be the Adrian Peterson that’s 100 percent.’ So by November, boy, he had really hit his stride. He was the Adrian that we all knew. But we just kind of took it slow early and it worked out well for us.”
Griffin, meantime, had his first breakout game in Week 5 against in Dallas, where he rushed for 77 yards. He topped that two weeks later against Chicago. Although RG3 only rushed for 7 and 17 yards, respectively, the past two weeks, it can be argued that he enjoyed his sharpest performance in last week’s 30-24 overtime win over the Chargers.
“You can see he’s really looking more and more like the Robert from a season ago, so he’s coming into his own,” Frazier added. “You can definitely see the difference.”
Comparing Peterson’s recovery to Griffin’s isn’t totally analogous, though, as Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan pointed out.
“The big difference with a quarterback, especially coming into his second year, is what you miss in the offseason,” Shanahan said. “As a running back, what do they really do in the offseason in trying to get themselves in great football shape, working on their strength. As a quarterback, you’re working on your drops, you’re working on mechanics, so many things that you do after your first year of learning the system, learning the terminology, and I think that’s the big difference.”
Although Griffin’s performances in recent weeks have been uneven, Peterson said RG3 will continue to get more comfortable with time and, by the start of the 2014, shouldn’t have any concerns regarding the knee.
“Totally different mindset” this season, Peterson said. “I’m more confident and stronger than I was last year, so I was ready to roll.”