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Adrian Peterson remains on track to return to Vikings this season

When Vikings running back Adrian Peterson underwent surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in September, he hoped to return in late December before a playoff run. Roughly two months since his surgery, the former NFL MVP remains on track to achieve his goal.

According to several people briefed on his rehab, Peterson's desire to return before the end of the season is still realistic. No one knows for sure when he'll be back -- his return is based on several factors -- but there have been no complications to his ongoing recovery.

What exactly has Peterson been doing to get back to the field?

He has not been cleared to run on the field yet, sources say. But he is working out in the HydroWorx pool, the underwater treadmill that has him running while putting just 30 percent of his bodyweight on his knee. He isn't running on his full body weight yet, and he must slowly ramp up to that.

The next step is to run carrying more body weight in the anti-gravity pool. Once he clears that hurdle, normal running is next. The Vikings won't know his actual return date until he runs in normal conditions and they see how the knee reacts. If it swells up or is irritated, they'll reel him back. If it's all good, he'll continue to move forward in his rehab.

Peterson is at his playing weight and is as strong as ever. If his knee can handle the increase in workload, there are no obstacles. Three months (December 22) would be on the quick side for a recovery for a repaired meniscus, but it wouldn't be unheard of. Generally three to four months is the timeframe. The Vikings play the Packers in Week 16 on Dec. 24.

And with Peterson, as everyone acknowledges, timetables for humans don't really correlate to him. He showed that in his return from ACL surgery in the past.

Without him, the Vikings are still 6-4 heading into Thursday's matchup against the Lions with the playoffs in view. But they've done it without much of a running game. Jerick McKinnon is averaging 2.9 yards per rush, Matt Asiata just 3.1 yards. Both backs have to overcome a battered and bruised offensive line.

Having Peterson back would be a huge lift for the team, no doubt. And with an eye on late December, it's still possible.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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