Breaking Down Adrian Peterson's Amazing Return from Knee Injury

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2012

The panic set in immediately after Adrian Peterson was carted off the field on December 24th, 2011. It was compounded when everyone's fears were proven true and he was put on injured reserve two days later.

He can't come back. Nobody can come back even close to fully from that. Even if he comes back he will never be the same. Above all else, no way does he play in Week 1.

Adrian Peterson might have quoted some Han Solo in response.

Never tell me the odds.

You can tell Peterson the odds, but like everyone's favorite rogue smuggler, that's just likely to make him go out of his way to prove you wrong.

We'll take a look at a pair of plays which show why the Vikings are confident with Peterson going forward.

He's not quite 100 percent—he'll concede that. However, he is certainly close to it, or seemed to be on Sunday.

On this first play, early on in the game, they don't pussy-foot with Peterson—the play they call will have him test that knee pretty quick.

Peterson is solo in the backfield with two receivers out wide, though the one at the top of the screen motions in to help block.

On the next cap, the receiver is firing out to try and give Peterson some early help downfield. However if you look at the offensive line, you can see they are getting little forward motion. The red wedge is the defensive line pushing the offensive line back—and making Peterson rethink his direction.

Without hesitation, Peterson bounces outside—though not all the way—then cuts upfield. 

Whether he just wanted to cut upfield to gain yards on a clearly disintegrating play or didn't think he could make it outside with enough speed to turn the corner, he took the ensuing contact well and bounced right back up after trying to fight through the tackle.

I liked what I saw on the run—defensive penetration aside. Peterson may seem a tad slow, but for a first real carry, it wasn't bad at all. He wasn't hesitant, didn't lack strength and didn't shy away from contact.

More of that was on display on our second play, a short yardage run, this time with a fullback blocker.

On the play, the aforementioned fullback is lined up in front of Peterson. Two receivers are out wide. The player along the top will be cutting across towards the end zone in order to keep the cornerback (and perhaps one of the safeties) off the ball-carrier.

The other receiver is going to engage his cornerback right at the line and tie him up for the play.

Peterson takes the ball as his lead blocker hits the line, where he does a fair job of creating a bit of a hole.There are an awful lot of defenders hanging around though, and very lettle movement and push off the line.

Not liking his initial read, Peterson makes a very nice cut left to directly follow his blocker.

I loved seeing this cut because it really shows you he has no fear about his knee and isn't concerned with putting stress on it.

Peterson gets gang tackled, but keeps churning his legs and fighting the tacklers.

He scores on the very next play as the blockers get more push off the line of scrimmage.

Again, here is a play where Peterson shows no hesitancy, good strength and power as well as a complete lack of concern for his injury.

If you need final proof, just watch Peterson leap over defenders on his second touchdown. 

If that doesn't tell you he's unconcerned, nothing will.

Is Peterson 100 percent? Probably not quite yet. However as I have said many times before, 80 percent of Peterson is better than 99 percent of the other backs in the league.

He'll carry the full load and do it without and problem, a huge relief for the Vikings and their fans alike.

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