While recent developments point toward Adrian Peterson suiting up again in 2016, it’s possible the Vikings’ five-time first-team All-Pro running back could sit out the rest of the season, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Peterson, who suffered a a torn meniscus in Week 2, was on track to return this month as of last week, but both the Vikings’ struggles and his contract status could prevent that from happening. Since starting 5-0, the Vikings have dropped five of six and are currently in eighth place in the NFC. They face the league-best Cowboys (10-1) on Thursday, and another defeat could make a Peterson comeback less likely, per Florio, who doubts the team would rush him back later in the season if it were to continue falling out of playoff contention.
Peterson is still preparing as if he’ll play again this year, a source told Florio, and Ben Goessling of ESPN.com tweets that he could be back in the Vikings’ lineup Dec. 18. Peterson also has the rest of his career to consider, however, as none of the $18MM he’s due in 2017 – his age-32 season – is guaranteed. The Vikings could easily move on from Peterson during the upcoming offseason, then, so it wouldn’t make sense for him to risk further injury down the stretch as part of a team that now looks unlikely to make the playoffs. It’s possible, therefore, that Peterson has played his final snap with the Vikings, who selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft. The ex-Oklahoma Sooner has since become one of the most decorated backs in NFL history, though his reputation suffered when he drew a suspension from the league in 2014. Peterson violated the league’s personal conduct policy in an incident of abusive discipline toward his then-4-year-old son, and he missed 15 of 16 games in 2014 as a result.
Peterson returned last year to reestablish himself as an elite rusher, but he was off to an ugly start this season – 31 carries, 50 yards – before succumbing to injury. The Vikings’ sputtering offense has missed him, though, as the club ranks last in the league in both yards per carry (2.8) and rushing. Eight individual backs have already eclipsed Minnesota’s team total on the ground (782).
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