Adrian Peterson's return to the field on Sunday was so successful that coach Leslie Frazier jokingly accused the All-Pro running back of "faking his ACL injury."
Anyone who saw Peterson's left knee collapse at Washington on Christmas Eve knew he wasn't faking. Six days later, Peterson had surgery to repair his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.
Immediately, Peterson set the regular-season opener a little over eight months later as the goal for his return date. And he also vowed to come back as good or better than he was before.
The Vikings took a much more cautious tone while even those who didn't doubt Peterson expected him to touch the ball five times at most when he played the Jaguars in the season opener at Mall of America Field.
Peterson ended up touching it 18 times with 17 carries for 84 yards (4.9) and two touchdowns. Amazingly, he did indeed look as good as new.
"It feels amazing," Peterson said after the 26-23 overtime victory.
Asked if he got more carries than he expected, Peterson said he actually expected more. Coach Leslie Frazier went into the game wanting to limit Peterson's touches to 15, but scrapped that idea when it was obvious that Peterson was 100 percent in his first live action since the injury.
Peterson will lobby for more carries, as he often does.
"I understand from their perspective, how they're looking at it," Peterson said. "But from my perspective, I knew I was ready to play."
Frazier said the team will still have to exercise some caution with Peterson going forward into Week 2 at Indianapolis and beyond. Or at least try to.
"I think we still have to be somewhat cautious," Frazier said. "Now Adrian won't want to hear that but we still have to keep a rotation going between he and Toby (Gerhart). I don't think we can, at this point, say, 'Adrian, look forward to carrying the ball 20-25 times.'
"I don't think we're at that point quite yet but before the game, I wouldn't have said that he would have been able to carry it 17 either. He's very unique in so many ways but I think we'll go forward knowing that he is coming off of major knee surgery and it will only be his second game since that surgery and full participation. We'll be somewhat cautious."
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