There is a major caveat in the 2016 comeback plan for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
If the Vikings are out of playoff contention, it sounds like Peterson is out, too.
Peterson said Wednesday it would be “pointless” to play this season if his participation wasn’t geared toward reaching the playoffs. That is uncertain with the Vikings losing six of their last seven games following a 5-0 start.
Asked if he would return to play even if the Vikings are mathematically eliminated from the postseason picture, he said, “No, I wouldn’t.”
Still, Peterson said he feels ready physically. The training staff has been diligent reminding him that cutting on an empty practice field is much different than game speed.
“I feel like I’m there. Mentally, that’s how I feel and I feel like I was there six weeks ago,” Peterson said. “I guess that’s why I’m able to heal a lot faster and jump over hurdles that people wouldn’t expect me to be jumping over as of now. I’m just taking things in stride and controlling the things I can control.”
Peterson’s plan includes continuing to prepare for a potential return.
“I’m thinking we’re going to make the playoffs, so that’s what I’m keeping my mindset on,” he said. “If that’s not the case a week or two from now, we can settle back around.”
Peterson was sidelined by a torn meniscus in his right knee in September and had surgery on Sept. 22. He has 31 carries for 50 yards this season.
But the long view for Peterson includes the possibility of relocation. The Vikings might be ready to move on rather than pay a $12 million salary next season.
Peterson does not seem ready to trot into retirement. He has 11,725 career rushing yards and 97 rushing touchdowns.
Head coach Mike Zimmer said Peterson’s health, and not the NFC North standings, would be the only determining factor in putting him back on the field.
Peterson would not say if he was targeting the Christmas Eve game at Green Bay on the schedule.
“I’m going to keep that among the coaches and training staff right now,” Peterson said. “I’m focusing on getting my body ready, conditioning and getting back to doing the things I’d have to do on the football field.”
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