Ever since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late last season, Adrian Peterson has emphatically circled Week 1 of the 2012 regular season the date he returns to the field.
It's an optimistic goal, for sure, and one that Minnesota Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman shares, however isn't willing to guarantee Peterson ultimately will get what he wants.
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"I love Adrian," Sugarman said told The Star Tribune on Tuesday. "But let's make this clear: I'm still not going to be quoted as saying he's going to play in the first game. That's not fair. I don't know that."
"He'll keep throwing that out there. And good for him," Sugarman added. "That's great. That's obviously our goal, to get him playing the first game. But only if he's functionally safe to do it. This is our franchise. We can't be foolish about this."
Sugarman told the Star Tribune that Peterson's left quadriceps is back to close to 80 percent, and that his leg has regained normal motion. Regaining trust in his knee is the next step, according to Sugarman.
"Right now, when he tries to stop on a dime, he looks like he's on ice," Sugarman said. "That's normal. Deceleration is the hardest thing for those guys. Now we're starting to pound all that over the next couple months -- function and deceleration. That should just take us right to where hopefully he needs to be."