Forget NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is making a strong case for Most Valuable Player.
"It's hard for me to imagine a guy doing more for his football team than what Adrian has done for our team, and the fact that he has been so dominant over the course of the season," coach Leslie Frazier said Monday, the day after the Vikings beat the Lions 34-24 at Mall of America Field to take a 6-4 record into their bye.
"He's pulling away with his domination as a runner. His impact has been huge for us. It's hard to imagine another guy having a greater impact on their team, considering where we are and what we have to do every single week to win."
Peterson enters the bye with a league-leading 1,128 yards rushing and a 5.8-yard average that would be a career high. It's the most yards Peterson has had through 10 games in a stellar career that's seen him earn four first-team All-Pro honors.
Peterson has vowed to use the bye to come back even stronger when the Vikings visit Chicago a week from Sunday. At this point, it's ridiculous to doubt Peterson. Not after what he's done since having surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee last December.
Peterson said in January that he'd play in the regular-season opener and that he'd come back better than he was before. The first part of that seemed like wishful thinking. The second part seemed absurd to even express publicly.
But here we are. Peterson is as strong as ever. His top-end speed is returning. And he's more willing to wait for his blocks, which has actually made him a better runner.
In his past four games, Peterson has run for 629 yards and five touchdowns on 82 carries (7.7-yard average). That includes a 61-yard touchdown, his third straight game with a run longer than 60 yards. Against the Lions, Peterson ran for 120 of his 171 yards in the fourth quarter.
"I'm looking at some things that he's doing and he has improved," Frazier said. "His hands are better. Some of his cuts, his burst, he's staying more true to his reads, these are some things that he hadn't done before his injury.
"He was always looking to hit the home run and sometimes that would create negative plays. Now he's truer to his reads and he's helping our offensive line be better at what they do. So, he's a joy to watch. I think all of us should cherish having the chance to watch him live."