Every Vikings fan remembers Christmas Eve of 2011 for two reasons. First, a missed opportunity to bring in three extra draft picks, as a loss to the Washington Redskins would have given Minnesota the second overall pick. The St. Louis Rams ended up getting two extra first round picks over the next two years as well as a second round selection this year after trading the number two pick to the Redskins.
Secondly, and more seriously, the horrific injury that star running back Adrian Peterson suffered at the hands (or helmet) of safety DeJon Gomes. The draft picks would have helped the rebuilding process, but Peterson is the heart and soul of this football team, as well as the focal point of the offense. Watching him go down was one of the worst sports injuries I’ve witnessed.
Miraculously, it has recently been reported by Vikings GM Rick Spielman that Peterson is running on solid ground again roughly three months after tearing his ACL and MCL. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! No one will say that he’s football ready, because he’s not, but the fact that he’s running this soon after his injury is an impressive feat and just shows what a little determination and a lot of hard work can do.
After having surgery on a torn ACL, athletes are often told to rehab and wait 7-9 months before resuming athletic activities. Peterson has said that he hopes to be ready for the start of the 2012 season, and others in the organization have repeated this hope. However, in the current state of this franchise, the Vikings’ star player should feel no rush whatsoever in returning to the field.
The Vikings have a perfectly capable backup running back in Toby Gerhart who averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season. Furthermore, with Peterson out, the coaches can focus on Christian Ponder as the focal point of the offense and monitor and adjust his development. With an improved offensive line (it is widely assumed the Vikings will take USC left tackle Matt Kalil with their first round pick) Ponder will have more time to find his targets and we can see if 2011’s 12th overall pick is the player we need him to be going forward.
The team is in rebuilding mode folks. There’s no reason to expect the Vikes to be a contender this year, especially in the fierce NFC North. If Peterson can come back the player he was before his injury by week six or so, that would be a phenomenal accomplishment. It would be a pity to seem him come back before he is ready and re-injure himself (think Jerry Rice in 1997). In the meantime, let’s see what CP7 (yeah that’s my nickname for Christian Ponder) can do with a full offseason and move forward from there. Skol Vikings!