If that sounds confusing, that's because Peterson has put a condition on his return: The running back is only going to suit up this year if the Vikings can somehow manage to stay in the playoff race.
The former NFL MVP hasn't played since Week 2 when he tore his meniscus in a 17-14 win over the Packers. After Peterson decided to undergo surgery on his right knee, the Vikings placed him on injured reserve. Under IR rules, the running back has been eligible to return since Week 11. However, you haven't seen him on the field because he hasn't been healthy enough to play.
Peterson, who's inching closer and closer to a return, has been targeting a Week 15 or 16 comeback. However, he did say that a return would be "pointless" if the Vikings are out of the playoff race.
"I'm thinking that we're going to make the playoffs, so that's what I'm keeping my mindset on," Peterson said, via ESPN.com. "So, if that's not the case a week or two from now, we can settle back around."
That puts extra pressure on the Vikings, who have lost six of their past seven, to win their next two games against Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
The Vikings are currently 6-6 and one game behind the Buccaneers in the race for the final wild-card spot.
"Obviously, if we lose two games, we're out. So we'll just play it by ear," Peterson said, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Although the Vikings could get Peterson back, coach Mike Zimmer wasn't ready to entertain that possibility when he was asked about it this week.
"The guys that are out here, I'm trying to coach the best I can," Zimmer said. "If he comes out, I'll try to coach him the best I can, whenever that is."
If Peterson does return for the final two games, that would be a big boon for Minnesota's rushing offense, which ranks last in the NFL.