World-renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrews believes Adrian Peterson could be even better in 2013. And that's after the Minnesota Vikings running back ran for 2,097 yards -- the second-most in NFL history -- this season after tearing his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in December 2011.
"I say an athlete after (an) ACL (tear) is much better the second year back than the first year back," Andrews told the Pioneer Press. "First year back is a wash. It hasn't been a wash for him, obviously. After 24 months, (an athlete is) a lot more mature and confident.
"Who knows? Adrian may be better next year than this year."
Andrews explained that Peterson was the perfect specimen.
"He has defied all odds," Andrews said. "If you operate on the right athlete, it makes you look pretty darn good as a physician. Adrian was that genetic athlete who could do what he's done. There are a few I've treated. One of them was Bo Jackson. Bo was a natural athlete. He didn't have to lift weights growing up. Adrian Peterson is like that."
Andrews added that Peterson's speedy recovery is even more significant considering the position he plays.
"Running backs don't come back within the first year like that in the NFL," Andrews said. "They may come back and play a little bit. They don't do what he did. Nobody's ever done that if you look at the statistics of players returning to the NFL. We did a study. Running backs are the hardest to get back, period.
"The average NFL player ... only about a little over 50 percent are still playing after two years. We say we have 90 to 90-plus percent success with (knee) surgeries (in non-NFL cases). But we're talking about playing in the NFL. It's not 90 percent, believe me."
Andrews didn't hesitate when asked if he was rooting for Peterson to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record: "Oh, hell, yeah."
Basically, Andrews confirmed what we already know: Adrian Peterson is a freak of nature.
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.