Some athletes never recover from devastating knee injuries, but then there are others who have unworldly healing capabilities.
Prayer, hyperbaric chambers and old-fashioned extensive rehabilitation come to mind when reflecting on ways to regain top form. Visiting a holistic healer wouldn't be an ideal way to mend an injury, however.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson isn't one to take the easy road in strengthening his anatomy (see NFL.com Fantasy ad) and alternative medicine just doesn't fit with the man better known as A.D. (All Day) or Purple Jesus. Peterson, of course, is undergoing extensive rehab on a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee suffered during a 33-26 win over Washington on December 24. Already getting over a high ankle sprain, Peterson said he knew something was bad after taking a blow from Redskins safety DeJon Gomes.
"Any time you take a blow to the knee like that, you're concerned about the ACL, MCL," Peterson said after he received a harsh gift on Christmas Eve. "I'm trying to stay as positive as I can."
Still a young player and in the prime of his career, Peterson said last week the rehabilitation process is "coming around" and he is continuing workouts in Houston -- his offseason home. With a nickname Purple Jesus and coming from Palestine, Texas, one would think Peterson has everything in his corner to make a full recovery with all the biblical references.
However, an ACL injury is one of the worst an athlete -- especially a running back who relies on cutting and shifting -- can suffer and it usually takes about eight to nine months for a full recovery. And even then experts believe it could still be more than a full year to get back at full strength if the body allows it. Defying the normal standards of recovery is something Peterson and the Vikings are hoping for and so far everything is going accordingly.
"I'm happy with the progress that I'm making so far," Peterson said on KFAN-FM 100.3 last week. "I'm extremely happy."
Peterson, who owns the most rushing yards in a single game with 296 back in his rookie year of 2007, added that he's getting muscle tone and strength back in his legs. Flexibility and bending used to be an uphill battle and now sitting in a tight airplane seat has no effect on the precious limb. Peterson was recently in New Orleans for the funeral of a friend's wife and mentioned no issues with traveling. Swelling in the knee has subsided, save a minor patch in the joints.
When asked if he's possibly overworking the knee, Peterson confided that he sometimes bumps heads with his trainer and understands that he's being held back in order to avoid overexerting himself. That's comparable to asking NFL defenders to simmer down on opposing quarterbacks the second he lets go of the football.
The former University of Oklahoma star comes from an extensive background of athletes, including his mother, Bonita Jackson, who ran track and field. So that explains where Peterson gets his speed and durability. Unfortunately, his sturdiness was put to the test against the Redskins and now Peterson faces an obstacle larger than Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Peterson, eyeing a return to the Twin Cities at the end of February or early March, failed to reach 1,000 yards (970) in his fifth year in the league. Already at 6,752 career rushing yards, Peterson still has a long road ahead and it wouldn't be a surprise if he misses all of training camp and the start of the regular season. If that's the case, perhaps the Vikings will use the third-overall pick in April's NFL Draft on a running back. QB Christian Ponder still has to go through some learning curves and a reliable running back behind him can only aid in his production.
Peterson said during his interview that Minnesota's secondary could use some bolstering and wouldn't be opposed to adding the likes of cornerback Cortland Finnegan or wide receiver Vincent Jackson -- two free agents on the market. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman weighed in on the possibility of building more around Peterson and Ponder.
"Whether we make a big splash or not, if there's someone out there we think can help us then we're willing to spend a lot of money," Spielman was quoted on the Vikings' website. "We'll definitely look at those options."
Minnesota has plenty of time to wheel and deal on turning things around, but for now the majority of the attention will be monitored on Peterson and his battle back to prominence.