Adrian Peterson: Why Minnesota Vikings Cannot Expect Him to Carry Team in 2012

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIAugust 24, 2012

Jul 27, 2012; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) poses for pictures at training camp at Blakeslee Stadium at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Adrian Peterson is still trying to work his way back back from a devastating knee injury that cut his 2011 season short in December. While Peterson and the team believe he'll be ready by Week 1 (according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen), they shouldn't expect him to carry the team this season. 

Peterson's left knee is supposedly fully healed by now, and he isn't experiencing any swelling in it. But the Vikings have prohibited anyone from touching him during training camp and the preseason.

Peterson has been getting a lot of carries in camp, but without contact he really hasn't been getting any real work. Until a running back gets hit, he hasn't been in a game situation. That means it will be a few weeks before he's even close to ready to handle a full load. The Vikings simply can't rely on him to be a workhorse this year.

Quarterback Christian Ponder and running back Toby Gerhart will have to pick up the slack while Peterson gets back up to speed. 

Head coach Leslie Frazier and Minnesota's management need to figure out just how much they think Peterson can do this season and build the offense out from around that. I would really be shocked if he got more than 200 carries this year. Gerhart will almost certainly lead the way for the first half of the season, while Ponder and his lackluster receiving corps must show they can handle bigger roles. 

Ponder has looked much improved during the preseason, which is a positive sign, since he was shaky as a rookie in 2011. 

The Vikings' no-contact ban on Peterson is expected to be lifted soon. But it will still take some time for the team's star running back to get up to speed. He won't be the focal point of the offense for at least several weeks, which means Minnesota has to find other ways to pick up yards.