Former Sooner Star Adrian Peterson Back on the Practice Field


Former Oklahoma star Adrian Peterson is back on the practice field for the Minnesota Vikings, begging the question: What impact will the long layoff have on one of the NFL’s best at the time of his sitdown?

Peterson last stepped foot on the field nine months ago. The Pro Bowl running back was suspended and placed on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s exempt list in September after being charged with felony child abuse stemming from Peterson’s use of a switch to discipline his four-year-old son in Texas.

The former Sooner All-American was reinstated by the NFL in April. Peterson’s agent reportedly was pushing the Vikings to enact a trade for the former NFL MVP and league rushing champion, but it appears that is not going to happen.

Jul 25, 2014; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs through drills at training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

“We welcome him with open arms,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told Associated Press writer John Krawczynski this week. “He’s been such a tremendous, tremendous part of this organization…I’ve always supported him 100 percent, and I will continue to do so as long as he’s with us. Hopefully, that’s for a long, long time.”

Zimmer’s comments appear to be in sharp contrast to what Peterson was feeling about the Vikings’ organization during the time of his suspension. Multiple news sources have reported that Peterson was angered by what he perceived to be a lack of support by some in the Minnesota organization since the time the child-abuse allegations first surfaced. It was because of this soured relationship that many thought Peterson would demand a trade.

Now that it appears Peterson is going to remain in a Vikings uniform, at least for the time being, the bigger issue is: How will the nine-month layoff affect his performance in the coming season?

“I’ve always supported him (Peterson) 100 percent, and I will continue to do so as long as he’s with this organization.”–Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer

The 30-year-old running back will be in his ninth year in the NFL in 2015. He played only one game before his suspension last season, carrying the ball 21 times for a total of 75 yards. Despite the nine-month layoff from organized team activities, Peterson has kept himself in excellent shape, as he has throughout his athletic career.

When Peterson was at Oklahoma, head coach Bob Stoops noted that he was one of the hardest workers (on the field and in the training room) he had ever coached. That aspect of Peterson’s character was a prime reason he was able to return to action eight months after undergoing ACL surgery after the 2011 season and perform at an equal or even higher level than he did before the injury.

Twice he has led all NFL rushers (2008 and 2012), and in 2012, the season after his season-ending knee injury in 2011, Peterson came just short of setting the all-time single-season NFL rushing record.

The bottom line here is, we’re talking about an extraordinary athlete, one who is fully capable and talented enough to resume right where he left off in terms of his productivity and ability to put up big numbers and points on the scoreboard.

Age 30 is a problematic stage in the typical life cycle of a running back in the National Football League. Peterson has shown time and again, however, there is nothing about him that is typical.

Look for several more highly productive years in the NFL from No. 28, in or out of a Minnesota Vikings uniform.