After being in the NFL for 10-plus seasons, Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson finally found out what it’s like to miss time due to an injury.
“It definitely was miserable,’’ he said Thursday.
Peterson suffered a pulled hamstring late in regulation in a 34-28 overtime win at Carolina on Oct. 17. He was placed on injured reserve the next day and was designated to return on Wednesday. There is optimism he will return Sunday against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium after sitting out three games.
An eight-time Pro Bowl selection who spent his first 10 years with the Arizona Cardinals, Peterson entered the Carolina game having played in 160 of 166 possible NFL regular-season games. The only time he had sat out was during a six-game suspension to start the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy,
“I’d never been injured before,’’ he said. “The only injury I ever had was like a sprained ankle.”
When Peterson was out, he was like another assistant coach, donning the headset and giving what pointers he could to Minnesota defensive backs. The Vikings lost two of the three games he missed, falling 20-16 to Dallas on Oct. 31 and 34-31 in overtime at Baltimore on Nov. 7. They won 27-20 last Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I definitely wish I was out there,’’ he said. “I felt that if I was in that position, I could have made the play, or prevented the touchdown, or whatever the case may be. But I won’t necessarily say those plays or watching things like that happen added any frustration to me. The only thing I was frustrated about is just not being out there to help my team.
“Being in the league for 10 years and never missing a game due to injuries, it just didn’t sit well with me.”
Peterson was replaced in the lineup by Cameron Dantzler. Against the Ravens, the Vikings’ other starting cornerback, Bashaud Breeland, was lost to a groin injury in the second quarter, further depleting the secondary.
Vikings co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer said Peterson “looked good” in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
“He’s working back into his conditioning and all that,’’ Zimmer said. “We challenged him (Thursday) on a couple long balls and he covered them well. I think he looks like he’s ready to go. … He’s really valuable for us.’’
Peterson said he must get through Friday’s practice without any complications before a decision is made by head coach Mike Zimmer and athletic trainer Eric Sugarman on whether he will be activated to face the Packers.
“We’re sticking with the plan,’’ Peterson said. “I’ve got one more day of preparation to see how everything goes. … But I do feel great.”
Peterson’s injury came when he was covering the Panthers’ D.J. Moore on a long pass down the left sideline just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. He’s not entirely sure what happened.
“I was just trying to defend the route and my wheel blew out on me,’’ he said. “That’s all I could tell you. I looked at the play a bunch of times and felt like I was in pretty good position. The next thing you know, my body kind of went out of whack.’’
When he was out, Peterson requested to wear a defensive headset on the sideline. That was a new experience.
“When you’re in the game, you can’t really hear the calls,’’ he said. “You’re just waiting for the call to come out, so being on the sideline and able to hear the call and hear (Mike Zimmer) relay the message to (the linebacker with the headset), it was a lot more eye-opening for me to understand and see where Coach is coming from when he calls certain things.”
On Sunday, though, Peterson hopes to be busy trying to slow down Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. With the Cardinals, Peterson faced Rodgers four times. The Cardinals won three, including a January 2016 playoff game, but Peterson knows how dangerous the quarterback can be.
“We have our hands full,’’ he said. “His name to us in Arizona (was) ‘Rocket Man.’ What he’s able to do with the football, how he’s able to to throw it, how far he’s able to throw it.”