December Return In Play For Adrian Peterson?

Adrian Peterson has progressed to the point a return by mid-December is a possibility, Ben Goessling of ESPN.com reports.

The 10th-year Vikings running back has yet to resume running but is targeting this week to begin that part of his rehab. Goessling reports Peterson is making solid progress in an attempt to recover from meniscus surgery done in September. Although he’s exercising caution, as he did when he opted for surgery, Peterson could be back by Week 15 or Week 16.

There hasn’t been much of significance on the Peterson front since his surgery, but we’ve heard the 31-year-old running back has shown well in the weight room recently, with today’s report furthering the signs of progress for the future Hall of Famer.

However, a Peterson return is likely contingent on Minnesota remaining in the playoff race by this time next month. The Vikings snapped a four-game losing streak and are now 6-4 and set for a first-place matchup with the Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The Vikings then face the Cowboys and Jaguars before Peterson’s return range, and the team closes with the Colts, Packers and Bears.

Minnesota has seen its run game falter throughout the season. A year after the Vikings saw Peterson win the rushing title at age 30, they’ve plummeted to the league’s worst rushing attack. The Jerick McKinnon– and Matt Asiata-led backfield is averaging 70.0 yards per game — seven yards worse than the No. 31-ranked ground game. In 2014 with this duo at the controls, the Vikes ranked 14th in rushing.

Their offensive line has taken major steps back since then, and although Matt Kalil and Andre Smith‘s presences on IR have hurt, Peterson was averaging a ghastly 1.6 yards per carry in two games before his injury with those tackles involved. So, this group’s performance could conceivably factor into Peterson’s decision. Asiata and McKinnon are averaging 3.1 and 2.9 yards per carry, respectively.

But a Peterson return would undoubtedly boost the Vikings’ offense. He’s set to make an untenable $18MM in 2017, and his return to the Twin Cities next season is in doubt. Coming back healthy this season, if he’s able to reach that point, could help determine Peterson’s future with the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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