Minnesota Vikings: Will Adrian Peterson Return this Season?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered a dismal running game in 2016. The good news: Adrian Peterson began light running on Thursday.

If Adrian Peterson could return to the Minnesota Vikings roster this season, it could provide valuable momentum in the crucial games down the stretch. Peterson is only lightly running, but freakish recoveries are a trademark of the 2012 MVP.

Adrian Peterson went down with a torn meniscus on Sept. 18, and the Vikings placed him on injured reserve days later. After the injury, Peterson expressed that his sole focus was playing again this season. Initially, the Vikings expected Peterson to return by December at the earliest. Peterson’s expedited light running has made that look much more possible.

This December and beyond, the Minnesota Vikings have key match ups against the Cowboys, Jaguars, Colts, Packers and Bears. If Peterson can make his return even for just the last two games, the timing couldn’t be better. By the final quarter of the season, if the Vikings find themselves in playoff contention, playoff football is all about running and defense.

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Who better to revive the Vikings’ deceased running game than the best running back in the league. in the first two weeks of the season, Peterson certainly didn’t look that way. He only averaged 1.6 yards per carry. Somehow, that was worse than the Vikings current 2.7 yards per carry average.

Still, the Vikings seem to be figuring things out on offense, and someone like Peterson can turn his lemon offensive line into lemonade. Peterson does not only affect the running game–he makes the entire offense better.

Against the Packers, Sam Bradford had his best game of the season. Despite their ability to hold Peterson in check, the Packers had to respect him. That opened up Sam Bradford’s accurate downfield targets. Years of dominance, not his 2016 average, force Peterson’s opponents to fill the box. Even with his 1.7 yard average, every defensive coordinator knows that any time Peterson sees green, he can turn it into a touchdown.

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A better offense inevitably translates into a fresh, faster defense. Adrian Peterson may just be the glue that hold the Vikings’ 2016 season together. If he can stimulate the offense like he did in week two, the Vikings will do much more than reach the playoffs.