Adrian Peterson knows what Jordy Nelson is going through

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson knows what Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson is going through.

The Packers star has returned from a right ACL injury that forced Nelson to miss the 2015 season. Peterson tore his left ACL late in the 2011 season, then came back the following year to rush for nearly 2,100 yards in an NFL MVP campaign. Peterson's recovery might be considered the gold standard now for recovery from such an injury.

Nelson ''has to mentally understand that his ACL, that ligament in particular, is stronger than the one he didn't tear,'' Peterson said in a conference call this week after being asked if he had any advice for the receiver. ''You've got to play fast, you've got to have that confidence to understand that piece of it, and know that `I can go out and not be impotent, and I'm still going to be good.` ''

AIR BENNETT: If it's ever cost effective one day, count Martellus Bennett in if anyone starts offering commercial space flights.

For the second straight week the quirky tight end was spotted in the Patriots locker room wearing a NASA hat, which he said was in celebration of his love of all things in space.

Bennett's affinity began as a kid growing up outside of Houston. He told The Associated Press that he owns eight NASA caps and is working on a space-themed children's book. He recently released the first of a series of children's books based on his family and daughter, Austin Jett.

He joked that space was even playing a role in his preparations for the Miami Dolphins this week.

''I do like outer space a lot. After watching `The Martian,' I'm trying to science the (stuffing) out of this game plan,'' Bennett said, playing off a Matt Damon line from the film.

While Bennett might have fantasies of space, it doesn't translate into love for fantasy football. Bennett was used mostly as a blocker in the Patriots' season-opening win at Arizona last week, but he's not concerned about pleasing fantasy owners.

''No, I don't care about those at all,'' Bennett said. ''Only if it's a game of Quidditch. I'm always rooting for Harry (Potter).''

SILENT TREATMENT: It didn't take long for Washington Redskins rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens to get into his team's rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys.

He's giving Mom the silent treatment this week.

Cravens' mother is a fan of the Cowboys, the NFC East archrival Washington is hosting Sunday, so he refused to chat with her until after the game.


''I haven't spoken to her. I'm serious,'' said Cravens, a second-round draft pick out of Southern California. ''She called me this morning. I haven't spoken to her. I don't talk to Cowboys fans.''

He said his mother called his cell phone and he simply refused to talk. His father is not pulling for Dallas, so he gets to converse with Cravens.

''My dad called me. I was like, `Hey, what's up, Pops?` She was kind of jealous,'' Cravens said.

SPOT THE BALL: Teams practice for unusual situations and hope players remember when they happen. One of those sessions helped the Bengals get a decisive field goal against the Jets for a 23-22 win.

Out of timeouts, they snapped the ball with 18 seconds left in the first half Sunday. Rookie receiver Tyler Boyd made a third-down catch and was tackled at the Jets 3-yard line as the clock kept running.

The Bengals had to get their field goal team set up with less than 10 seconds to go. Boyd helped move matters along by placing the ball at the spot where he was tackled instead of tossing it to an official.

The Bengals got off the kick with 1 second left.

Cincinnati had practiced such a scenario two days earlier.

''It was just the situation we practiced,'' Boyd said. ''I put it right on the spot. I just wanted to keep the ball in the closest position to where everybody could get it out there and get it hiked.''

Mike Nugent was good from 21 yards.

ON THE JUICE Up on a shelf, atop Marvin Jones' locker stall with the Lions, is a sight you don't often see in an NFL locker room.

A jar of pickles, unopened.

What's up with that?

Jones explained he did some research on how to avoid cramps during training camp when he played for the Bengals and read that drinking pickle juice would help. So, he tried it and insisted it helped him recover.

Jones said he drank pickle juice straight out of the jar, and went through as many as four containers during one training camp with the Bengals. He said he didn't need the pickle juice to help him get through training camp with the Lions.

And, Jones said, he turned down a chance to make money as a pickle pitchman.

''I'm not going to be the one who says, `Hey, eat these pickles!'' Jones said with a grin.

AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE: The U.S. Army and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have extended their partnership for their Award for Excellence. The program is accepting nominations and is open to all sophomore, junior and senior high school student-athletes in the United States.

The Award for Excellence program will recognize 25 student-athletes who will be chosen as finalists based on their excellence in academics, athletics and community service.

''These student-athletes, like our soldiers, understand the importance of leadership and teamwork, and they use key skills like adaptability, versatility and innovation to achieve in any environment, be it in the classroom, on the playing field or in the local community,'' said Mark Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing.

Next spring, each finalist will be honored by Army soldiers and a Pro Football Hall of Famer during an event at his or her high school. The finalist will be presented a plaque, and the Hall of Famer will discuss the importance of striving for excellence, and what it has meant during his illustrious career.

Next August, all 25 finalists will convene in Canton, Ohio, for Hall of Fame enshrinements.


AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Dave Campbell and Howard Fendrich, and Sports Writers Joe Kay, Kyle Hightower, Larry Lage and Genaro C. Armas contributed.


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