Aug 17, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) on the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-US PRESSWIRE

Will Adrian Peterson Be Ready to Play in Week 1?

If you checked out this week’s SidCast – and I don’t know why you wouldn’t; that Sid is such a dynamic personality – you watched the venerable Mr. Hartman drop a somewhat disturbing piece of knowledge on Viking Nation. Sid says that despite all the Vikings’ public talk about Adrian Peterson’s fast progress in returning from knee surgery, the team is actually sort of worried about him and is considering holding him out of the September 9 season opener.

According to Hartman, the other factor in the Vikings’ shut-down-Peterson thinking is their confidence in Toby Gerhart, who they believe could be a #1 running back if given the chance. For the doubters, Hartman backs himself up by reminding everyone that he and he alone predicted Peterson would be held out of preseason despite reports that he might play this Friday against San Diego.

This is a somewhat depressing development for fans who dearly want to believe the upbeat reports about Peterson’s progress. But perhaps it would be a good idea to dial back expectations. The hero myth of Peterson – that he’s some kind of superman who can magically heal his body and return faster and stronger than ever – is nice for a story but doesn’t have much to do with the reality of rehabbing from major knee surgery.

The fact is that, outside of wanting to give the fans something positive to cheer for in a year that figures to be rather dismal otherwise, the Vikings have no reason whatsoever to rush Peterson back. Their desire to keep the fanbase engaged is probably why they keep dangling these overly-optimistic goals in front of us only to apparently change their minds at the last second. The smart thing now would be to doubt everything they say about Peterson. Cause clearly it’s all PR and bullcrap. Behind the scenes, they already know when Peterson will be returning, and that day is possibly a lot farther off than many fans want to believe.

But how much farther off? That depends on how much faith they have in Toby Gerhart. If Hartman’s report is true, that faith is at least strong enough for them to consider holding Peterson out until week 2. But if they’re willing to do that, why not hold him out longer? Why not place him on PUP and sit him until week 7? That would really irritate the fans, but it might actually be the most prudent course of action.

We’ll just have to stay patient on this one. Sooner or later, we’ll get to see Adrian Peterson on the field again. The important thing isn’t when that happens, but how strong Peterson is when it does happen.

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