In 2012, all of those questions were answered with a resounding, “Yes.”
Not only did Peterson return in time to play all 16 games for the Vikings last season, but he ran for a ridiculous 2,097 yards, coming up just 8 yards short of tying the all-time single-season rushing record set by Eric Dickerson in 1984. The University of Oklahoma product ran for at least 100 yards in 10 games, and only got stronger as the season went on, en route to winning the 2012 NFL MVP award.
But after spraining his foot last weekend against the Baltimore Ravens, Peterson’s health has once again presented a question, this time for the Eagles defense. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said earlier this week that Peterson, as well as backup running back Toby Gerhart (hamstring), won’t practice until Friday at the earliest, but the Eagles are preparing for Sunday’s matchup as if the reigning league MVP will suit up in purple and gold.
“We prepare for healthy at every position and we’ll make adjustments if we feel the game plan changes,” head coach Chip Kelly said on Thursday. “I think when you watch Minnesota, their game plan doesn't change if Adrian doesn't play because Toby is a similar type back, but we're preparing as if he's going to play.”
Whenever an opposing player’s health has made his status unknown heading into the game - such as Dallas’ DeMarco Murray or Detroit’s Reggie Bush - the Eagles coaching staff has always erred on the side of caution.
“We prepare that all people that are in question, if we don't know if they are healthy, we're going to get their best, all of them are up, and we're going to prepare that way,” said defensive coordinator Bill Davis. “And then we'll adjust as the week goes on and we get more information, just like we would during a game. If something happens to one of those guys during a game, we would adjust accordingly, like we did in this game where all of a sudden at the last minute Reggie Bush wasn't up.”
Peterson’s 1,221 rushing yards on the season ranks second best in the NFL, behind only
“We still have to go out and play solid football,” said linebacker
“It’s not really that different for us,” echoed cornerback
No matter how much action Peterson sees on the practice field during the week, the Eagles defenders know that a lot could change by the Sunday’s 1 p.m. kickoff. Just ask linebacker
“I’m practicing like they are playing,” Kendricks said. “That doesn’t mean anything to me or to the rest of these guys. For all we know, they could be not playing today and in there tomorrow. We know how this league works. Some people feel like they have to play instead of taking a step back. We’re preparing like they are playing.”