Peterson returns to scene of knee crime

Adrian Peterson (Patrick Smith/Getty)

Adrian Peterson's last Christmas Eve negatively impacted his career after tearing two ligaments in his knee the last time he played at Washington. He will be returning to FedEx Field looking to put the injury in the past after a long offseason of rehab and five games on the rebound.

Over the last two months, Adrian Peterson has been peppered with questions about when he will officially be at 100 percent health – a moment that hasn't come yet. Perhaps returning to the scene of the crime will be the moment that Peterson's 2012 will come full circle.

It was Christmas Eve 2011 at FedEx Field. The Vikings had come out from halftime with a plan on how to beat the Washington Redskins. Peterson took a handoff up the middle on the first play of the third quarter. It was a modest gain of 3 yards and Peterson went down. And stayed down.

Almost immediately, it became clear something was wrong. Very wrong. Peterson grabbed at his knee and pounded his fist into the turf. It wasn't frustration that had A.P. punching the ground. He had his share of problems with the Redskins. As one of the most prolific runners in the history of the NFL, the Redskins have been Peterson's kryptonite. In three career games, he had gained just 101 yards on 27 carries, but the 27th of those rushing attempts would be the one that would change his life.

As the Vikings would rally to beat Washington in that game, Peterson was getting a medical assessment. Before the game was over, word was spreading along the Vikings sideline that Peterson had suffered a worst-case type of knee injury. His ACL was torn and possibly it was worse than that.

What would follow would be Peterson's lost offseason. He spent grueling hours, days, weeks and months trying to get his surgically repaired knee back into football shape. He has astounded medical professionals, team trainers, coaches and teammates with the level of his commitment and his recuperative powers. But he has yet to return to the scene of the crime.

Peterson will make that return Sunday when the Vikings face the Redskins at FedEx Field. His career is back on track and he is trying to leave the pain and agony of the last nine months behind him. Perhaps he can finally get that closure when he returns to the field where his football life was turned upside down.

Maybe, just maybe, when he can exorcise that demon he might officially rule himself 100 percent and put the nightmare of knee injury in the rearview mirror and keep it there.


  • The game also marks a place where Leslie Frazier has had his most success as head coach of the Vikings. His first win as head coach came at Washington, and the final of his three wins last year occurred there, too. However, he downplayed the significance.

    "It's completely irrelevant from my standpoint. You guys have heard me say this before: Every year in the National Football League is a different year," Frazier said. "I guarantee (Redskins coach) Mike Shanahan and his staff don't care about what happened when we went to Washington a year ago. We're not concerned about what happened a year ago. We'd like to believe we're a different football team. I'm sure they're a different football team."

  • At his Monday press conference, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said that "right now it looks good" that quarterback Robert Griffin III will play Sunday against the Vikings. RG3 left last Sunday's game with Atlanta after suffering what was termed a mild concussion when he couldn't answer basic questions like what the score was and what quarter the game was in. The Redskins need the electrifying Griffin this week because the backup is fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, who has seen very little time working with the first-team offense while Griffin has been groomed to become an NFL starter.

  • Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson will go through more tests on his left leg Tuesday. Simpson said he woke up with numbness and weakness in his lower leg that affected his ability to cut and push off Sunday against Tennessee and said after the game he wasn't sure what the problem was, but that it prevented him from being the difference-maker he wants to be for the Vikings offense.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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