Minnesota Vikings Should Play It Safe, Shut Down Adrian Peterson

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 10, 2013

USA Today

Not much has gone right for the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. One year after finishing 10-6 and making the playoffs, Minnesota finds itself at 3-9-1 and in last place in NFC North.

A 10-loss season appears inevitable, and last week's 29-26 last-second loss to the Baltimore Ravens was a new low point in a season filled with them.

The Vikings appear to have finally caught a break of sorts regarding Adrian Peterson's foot injury. But if the team has any sense, it won't risk him in meaningless games moving forward. 

It's time for "All Day" to be shut down for the season.

As Ben Goessling of ESPN reports, an MRI on Peterson's foot revealed no broken bones or ligament damage. A CT scan is still pending, but Peterson said the team is "just going through the protocol." Peterson also added that he plans to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, Goessling later reported that while Peterson will probably not need surgery, he is unlikely to play in Week 15.

For now, with Peterson in a walking boot, the Vikings will await the results of that CT scan and consult with a foot specialist.

After that, the next step is easy: Shut Peterson down.

It's admirable that Peterson is willing to play through the injury, even for a team headed nowhere fast. With that said, it's hardly unexpected. It's just an extension of the same mentality that helped the seventh-year veteran recover in miraculous fashion from a torn ACL a season ago.

Adrian Peterson runs through injuries the same way he runs through arm tackles...at full speed.

In this instance, unfortunately, that attitude could end up hurting him. 

Simply put, there's absolutely nothing to be gained by putting Peterson back on the field this year. Minnesota's season was over several weeks (and quarterbacks) ago.

However, there's plenty to lose.

During a dark season in the Twin Cities, Peterson's play has been one of the few bright spots. Despite facing stacked boxes, he has topped 1,200 yards on the ground, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. His five 100-yard rushing games this year is tied for the NFL lead with the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy.

Adrian Peterson 2013
* Second in NFL (LeSean McCoy)

He is, without question, the Vikings' best player. He's also their highest-paid player.

What exactly is the upside to rolling Peterson back out there at the risk of making his foot worse?

After all, this isn't a broken finger or something minor. Any time the word "Lisfranc" is muttered in the NFL, players and coaches take a deep breath. Peterson appears to have dodged seriously injuring his foot, but that certainly doesn't mean the injury can't get worse.

Remember, a mid-foot sprain wrecked DeMarco Murray's 2012 season for the Dallas Cowboys. Jacksonville Jaguars tailback Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry this year as he works his way back from a similar injury.

Once a mid-foot injury is bad, it's really bad, and it's crazy to consider rolling the dice with Peterson.

According to Goessling, head coach Leslie Frazier has considered that very thing:

You want to know exactly how severe the injury is, and it helps you make that kind of a decision. So as we learn more about the severity of it, or the lack of severity, then you can make a clear decision about this ballgame and future ballgames in this season.

If the Vikings are smart, they'll keep cruising on the caution causeway, and within a few days, word will come down that Peterson has been placed on injured reserve.

It's another bitter pill for Vikings fans who have swallowed dozens this year, but the last thing the free-falling team needs is for the season to go from bad to worse to cataclysmic.


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