December 24, 2011; Landover, MD, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) gestures to fans while being carted off the field after injuring his left knee against the Washington Redskins in the third quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Reality Check: Adrian Peterson

We Vikings fans like to believe that Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the entire NFL.  While you may get a slightly different opinion from Titans or Texans fans, there’s no denying that he’s very near the top of the pack.  Though he sat out three games earlier last season, he was still on his way to another solid 1,000+ yard rushing season despite the poor performance of most of his teammates.

 

Then the Redskins game happened.  Just 30 yards short of his fifth straight 1,000 yard season, he took a hit to the knee, tearing both his MCL and ACL, ending his season and putting his future in doubt.  The talk started instantly.  Would he ever be back to his normal self?  Would he ever be a top running back in the league again?  Would he even return to football at all?  Anecdotally, I had a number of friends (mostly Packer fans) tell me that this was it for Adrian Peterson, and that people are never the same after coming back from an ACL injury.

 

Fortunately, this isn’t true.  ACL injuries can be devastating, and with an MCL thrown in, it makes it even harder to recover.  The Anterior Cruciate Ligament connects the femur to the tibia and prevents the lower leg bone from moving too far forward.  The Medial Collateral Ligament connects the two leg bones on the side, and prevents too much side-to-side movement.  Both are important for just walking around, but when you’re sprinting, jumping, cutting, juking, or anything else a running back might do in a day, they are hugely essential.  It takes surgery and months of intense rehab, but these injuries can be overcome and an athlete can return to full form, just ask Chad Greenway.

 

Let’s get to the point.  This is where I put my fanboyism aside and try to predict as reasonably as possible how the 2012 season will go for Adrian Peterson.  So here it is:  Adrian Peterson will rush for over 1,000 yards again this season.  He may not start week one, but it won’t be long before he’s back, and he’ll be back with a vengeance.

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