Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson aims to be ready for the start of the 2012 regular season, and his top backup has no reason to doubt that will be the case.
During a Sunday appearance with Jim Souhan and Tom Pelissero on "Sunday Morning Sports Talk" on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, Toby Gerhart said he wouldn't be surprised if Peterson is ready for the Vikings' Sept. 9 opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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"I think he will be," Gerhart said. "You can never be surprised with Adrian. The way he comes to work every day, the way he pushes himself. I mean, he was flying around, straight-line speed, moving out there. Racing Percy (Harvin) up the hill, doing conditioning stuff. I haven't seen him in a couple of weeks now, but I'm sure he's continued to make leaps and bounds in progress.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he's ready. You can never count Adrian out."
Peterson will be nine months out from major knee surgery at the start of the season and likely will be limited. Peterson's status should cause the Vikingsto lean more heavily on Gerhart, a 2010 second-round draft pick out of Stanford, like they did at the end of last season when Peterson battled an ankle injury before he blew out his knee.
In addition to starting five games, Gerhart had 413 of his 509 rushing yards in the final six weeks of the season. Gerhart is preparing to be the starter until Peterson is ready to go.
"I'm looking, going into the season, to have a big role," Gerhart said. "I don't know how big it will be, but I'm looking like I'm going to be the starter from Day 1 and have to be the starter all the way on through until Adrian is back and ready and (at) full speed. So I'm excited about that, and ready to embrace that and go out and help this team win and really show people what I can do."