MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson continues making it clear, both to the outside world and to everyone within the Vikings’ organization, that he wants to play Sunday against Jacksonville.
But the Vikings’ running back also knows his wishes will be trumped by the authority of coach Leslie Frazier and owner Zygi Wilf. So Peterson reiterated Thursday that he will be at peace with whatever is decided on his Week 1 playing status in the hours before Sunday’s game.
“Sometimes you might not agree,” Peterson said. “But ultimately (you’re OK) when you know someone, when you know their intention and you know their heart, and you know they’re doing what’s best for you.”
Just a little more than eight months since having surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, Peterson has put himself in position to play in the opening week and said “it will be a hard pill to swallow” if he’s told he can’t.
Peterson said his knee has not caused him any significant discomfort since he returned to practice three weeks ago and that he has little hesitance about testing things in full-speed game action as soon as possible.
“I haven’t had any doubts,” Peterson said. “That’s not the way I’m programmed. It’s not the way you accomplish things — to have doubts.”
Frazier said the coaching and medical staff should have all the information they need to make a final call on Peterson’s playing status on Friday night or Saturday morning.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said Peterson’s reps have been increased from 18 last week to between 25 and 35 this week. Asked how much contact has come with those reps, Musgrave said, “I’d say he’s taken what a normal player would take in practice.” That means very little contact, no tackling to the ground and no targeting of the legs by defenders.
Here’s a number that suggests Percy Harvin will be on the field the first time Jacksonville kicks off on Sunday at Mall of America Field: 35.7
That’s the average yards per kickoff return for the teams that played the Jaguars this preseason, highest in the league.
Granted, it’s a number that scrubs and guys who are no longer on the team helped compile. But it’s still a fair comparison because it’s not like the other 31 teams were using their best players throughout the preseason either.
The issue seems coverage-related rather than kick-related.
“(Josh Scobee) has a big-time leg,” Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer said. “He’s outstanding. He’s very, very good. He’s one of the better combination kickoff-field goal guys in the league.”
The Jaguars kicked off 21 times in the preseason. Eleven of them (52.4 percent) were touchbacks.
Harvin is one of the best kick returners in the league, but the Vikings are extra careful not to give him too many touches, particularly when his value on offense skyrockets with fellow receiver Jerome Simpson suspended and Peterson limited at best as he returns from his left knee reconstruction.
Asked if he’ll have Harvin at kickoff returner on Sunday, Priefer said: “I hope so. That’s the plan. Any time you have the best athlete on your team out there as your kickoff returner, that’s what you want.”
— Defensive coordinator
Alan Williams isn’t buying the Jaguars’ claims that Maurice Jones-Drew, last year’s league rushing champion with 1,606 yards, will be limited to third downs because his contract holdout just ended this week.
“I’ve seen him the last few years while I was at Indy,” said Williams, the former Colts defensive backs coach. “Preseason or not, I’m not sure that if he was there that he would have been playing in the preseason anyway. So I don’t take any stock in that. We’ll be ready for him on first, second, third and fourth down.”
— Jacksonville starting linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) missed practice and starting corner Derek Cox (hamstring) was limited.