EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Adrian Peterson put up one of the best seasons by a running back in NFL history to run away with the MVP award.
Now imagine what he could do if he was actually fully healthy.
Peterson had surgery on Thursday to repair a sports hernia in his abdomen, an injury that bothered him for much of the last month of the season while he came up just 8 yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.
It was an incredible season nonetheless considering he had surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee the previous December.
In the final few weeks of the season, Peterson acknowledged playing through an abdominal injury, but never let on just how much it was bothering him.
On Thursday, the Vikings disclosed he had undergone surgery in Philadelphia to repair the hernia.
"We expect a speedy recovery with no long-term concerns," the team said in a statement on its website.
Considering Peterson recovered from a significant knee injury faster than anyone can ever remember a running back doing so, bouncing back from his latest procedure shouldn't slow him down too much.
Peterson tore his ACL against the Redskins in December 2011, then set to work on a rehab program that surprised almost everyone in getting him back on the field for the season opener in 2012.
He was somewhat limited in his first few weeks of the season, still working to get the scar tissue to break up and restore the flexion and cutting ability in his knee.
But once he broke loose, he was nearly unstoppable. Peterson topped 200 yards twice in the final five weeks of the season and hit 199 in the season-ending victory over the Green Bay Packers that carried the Vikings into the playoffs.
His recovery, coupled with the playoff berth and 2,097 yards rushing, helped Peterson easily win the MVP award over Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. He was also selected the league's offensive player of the year in a season in which he scored 12 touchdowns, had eight runs of 40 yards or more and averaged 6.0 yards per carry.
Playing through the injury, which is a tear in the abdominal muscles that can cause severe pain in the pelvic and groin area and hinder a player's ability to run and cut, only adds to Peterson's breathtaking season.
While many other players have found it too difficult to play with a sports hernia, Peterson only appeared to be slowed by the injury in one game, when he sat out much of the fourth quarter of a decisive victory over Houston in Week 16.
Toby Gerhart finished up the game, and Peterson said later that his abdomen was too sore to continue playing. He rebounded with the monster game against Green Bay the following week and even played in the Pro Bowl with the injury.
Peterson isn't expected to be out much more than a month, giving him ample time to get back into his workouts and get ready for next season.
One of his best blockers is looking at a longer recovery time. Vikings centre John Sullivan had microfracture surgery on his left knee, a procedure that requires a three- to four-month rehabilitation program. Sullivan, who made a push for a Pro Bowl spot in his fifth season, is expected to be ready for training camp in August. The surgery was first reported by 1500espn.com.
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