If the Detroit Lions' injury report isn't the top divisional storyline of Week 1, then it's probably the status of Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson. The Vikings haven't decided whether he will play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it's now clear they will give him every opportunity to prove he is ready this week during practice.
Appearing Wednesday morning on 1500 ESPN, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he has given defenders the green light to hit Peterson without restrictions during practice this afternoon. Peterson has been practicing for three weeks since the Vikings activated him from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but defenders were first told not to hit him at all and later to avoid contact below the waist.
Coaches and medical officials will monitor Peterson's progress for the next two days and hope to have a decision made by Friday or Saturday, although they might not announce it until Sunday.
"We're going to give him quite a bit today in practice and see how he responds," Frazier said "It's important that we continue to watch him do certain things so we can feel confident, and he can feel confident, about lining up and playing in a ball game. … We're going to throw some things at him and see how he responds."
Frazier said he told running backs coach James Saxon to inform Peterson that "today is the day we'll charge him up." According to Frazier, Peterson responded: "You better tell those defenders that they better buckle up, because I'm coming."
There's no doubt that harnessing Peterson's competitiveness and enthusiasm remains a key part of his rehabilitation process. But Frazier said he is confident Peterson will understand if "there is something we see that tells us this week is not the week."
We've discussed the likelihood that Peterson won't immediately fall into the Vikings' full-time tailback job when he returns. There is momentum, however, for Peterson to play in some fashion Sunday, which will be 260 days after he tore two knee ligaments. Stay tuned.