The Vikings and the Jaguars have two of the best running backs in the NFL, Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew. However, when those two teams meet in Minnesota this week, neither of those two aforementioned backs figure to have much of an impact. Maurice Jones-Drew will be limited to 3rd down work about a week after returning from his 38 day holdout, while Adrian Peterson is about 9 months removed from a torn ACL. The Vikings expect him to play, but he’ll be limited to a backup role behind capable back Toby Gerhart until he gets his legs back under him.
Adrian Peterson’s speedy recovery from such a severe injury is impressive, but maybe not even surprising from someone like Peterson and it’s not unprecedented either. Wes Welker returned for week 1 from a similar injury for the 2010 season after just 8 months. However, it’s worth noting that Welker was not his normal self that year. He caught just 86 passes for 848 yards, both his lowest totals in his 5 year career with the New England Patriots. It’s unrealistic to expect Peterson to be his normal self until at least the 2nd half of the season (Welker’s 2nd half stats were much better as he caught 42 passes for 493 yards), if at all this season.
For that reason and others, it’s a bit head scratching why the Vikings are bringing him back so soon. Toby Gerhart is a capable runner who should be able to carry the load until Peterson is fully healthy and truly ready to play and the Vikings probably aren’t going to be competitive this year either way. This is a team built for the future and Peterson, still only 27, is expected to be a big part of it. They can’t afford to risk him reinjuring himself. Besides, he still has about 28 million guaranteed on his contract after the season as his massive extension just kicked in. They want to make sure they get the most out of that money.