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Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Mankato, MN - Wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear, Adrian Peterson took the field this afternoon to practice with his teammates for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee almost eight months ago. While the practice was scaled back (moved into the fieldhouse due to rain), Peterson was enjoying every last second of it.
"I was like a kid in a candy store," Peterson excitedly told reporters after the walkthrough concluded. "I had to kind of calm myself down, I was going a little too fast for a walkthrough in the beginning!"
Peterson, 27, defied all odds Sunday afternoon when he returned to the playing field a mere eight months after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his knee.
According to Peterson, the Vikings sat him down prior to leaving for San Francisco on Thursday afternoon and shared their plans to take him off the PUP list when they returned. Staying behind the team in Mankato, Peterson said that he continued his rehab work and "got his mind right" for what Sunday's return to the field meant to him.
"It's been a true test," Peterson said. "They [officially] took me off today and I just kind of reflected back to the day after surgery and the process to get to where I am at now. It's been hard work...I had a lot of people doubting me."
Sunday's return marks the beginning of the final step to get Peterson ready for live game play in the NFL. After practice, AP reflected on the difficult journey he's had.
"Strengthening my leg and range of motion [were the most difficult parts of the process]," Peterson said. "I really wanted to strangle Eric Sugarman a couple of times going through the process of trying to get my range of motion back...He probably felt like he was dealing with one of his kids, 'No you can't do this, you can't do that.' He knows how I am. I'm always trying to do extra."
Everybody that we were able to talk to on Sunday made it very clear that AP's return to the field was not a green light to go full speed or begin full contact drills. It was simply the next step in the process of returning him to the field for the 2012 regular season.
That said, the Vikings continue to use the week one game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 9th as a target date for AP's return to the NFL. If this goal is to be realistic, it's thought that Adrian would need to see live snaps during the next three weeks of the preseason. Adrian isn't convinced that's necessary.
"Hopefully I can get some snaps in the preseason," Adrian said when asked about his preparations for the regular season. "If not, oh well. I feel like I'll be ready to roll either way."
Per new CBA restrictions, Peterson will have to wait two full days until Tuesday to dawn full pads and begin contact drills but on this day, Sunday's indoor installation practice was good enough to lift the spirits of Adrian Peterson and his Minnesota Vikings teammates.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN