Vikings' RB Adrian Peterson has proven that he's not your ordinary ACL case

Posted Nov 8, 2012

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz doesn't think mortal men should be able to do what Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been able to accomplish so far this season.

The last time Schwartz and the Lions faced Peterson in Week 4, he recorded his first 100-yard game of the season (21 carries for 102 yards) in a 20-13 Vikings win.

Peterson has since rushed for 625 yards and four touchdowns in five games and looks to be getting better each and every week, coming off a 182-yard, two-touchdown effort against Seattle.

"I don’t know that he’s getting stronger every week," Schwartz told Minnesota reporters in a conference call this week. "I think he was playing at high level right from the opener.

"When you watched him, it was hard to believe he was, at the time, eight months off of an ACL (injury). I’ve never seen anybody come back that way. It usually takes about a year before (guys) are back to themselves. They can get out there and they’re not in danger of hurting themselves. But there’s definitely a time factor to it. And he appears to have defied all those time frames for all the other mortal people."

The Lions have had their fair share of ACL injuries over the years from tight end Brandon Pettigrew to running back Kevin Smith to rookie receiver Ryan Broyles, who was just five months removed from his ACL injury when the Lions drafted him in the second round this year.

"He’s a warrior and he did the same thing at OU," Broyles said of his fellow Oklahoma alum. "He hurt his ankle, stil played. Collar bone, still played. He’s just a warrior and a beast and he’s a different human being."

Broyles said they didn’t call Peterson AP – his nickname in the pros – when he was at Oklahoma.

"Everyone there calls him AD, because he can run all day," Broyles said. "That’s just the way he plays and that’s how he attacked his rehab. He’s a different dude."

Pettigrew tore his ACL on Thanksgiving of 2009 and was back on the field Week 1 the next season and played 16 games. He had nearly a month on Peterson.

"I know that’s a tough road back," he said. "He hasn’t lost a step. He’s just an awesome player, that’s really all you say about it."

Peterson had his surgery on Dec. 30 and could already cross the 1,000-yard barrier on Sunday with 43 yards.

"He’s not just running the ball well," Schwartz said. "He’s making explosive runs. I think he’s got 14 of them over 20 yards. He’s scoring touchdowns for them. He looks the same as he’s ever looked. And if you just watched the game tape, you’d never guess he was coming off an ACL in the last game of the season last year."

Peterson has 11 explosive runs of 20-plus yards on the season and is doing it against defenses geared toward stopping him - particularly with Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder struggling of late.

"That’s life in the NFL when you’re a marquee back," Schwartz said. "Whoever it’s been, Barry Sanders with the Lions here, Jamal Lewis with the 2003 Ravens rushed for 2,000 yards, Eddie George with the Tennessee Titans. You name it. When you’re that guy, they’re going to load the line of scrimmage and the great ones can still be productive regardless. I think he classifies as a great one."

The Lions did a pretty good job against Peterson the first time around, though. He finished with 102 yards, but his longest run of the game was 18 yards and it was his only one run of more than 10 yards.

"It’ll be a team effort," Schwartz said Wednesday about getting Peterson to the ground. "One person doesn’t stop a run game like that. One person doesn’t tackle him. It’s got to be 11 guys doing their jobs, staying in their gaps and making sure tackles. That’ll be a big key to it. He’s a great player. He’s been able to be productive coming off an injury, and when people’s game plan is to stop him, he’s still able to be effective."