Adrian Peterson on if he'll be ready for Week 1

840323.jpg

Adrian Peterson on if he'll be ready for Week 1

From Comcast SportsNet
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) -- The NFL season starts for Minnesota on Sept. 9, barely eight months after Adrian Peterson had reconstructive surgery on his ripped-up left knee. Despite the medical advances that have made comebacks from anterior cruciate ligament quicker than ever, Peterson's return for the opener against the Jaguars was always on an optimistic timetable. But for the star Vikings running back, that hasn't really been a goal. Belief is more like it. "Despite what everyone else had to say, that was my vision," said Peterson, who also tore the medial collateral ligament when he was hit during a game last Dec. 24 at Washington. "I knew it was going to be a journey, a path, to get closer to that vision, and I'm closer. I see it. It's closer now. It was far away in the beginning, but I've been working hard and just moving forward. "So hopefully here in a couple weeks -- here in a couple weeks, not hopefully -- that vision will be right there in front of me in my lap." Peterson has cleared every hurdle in his rehabilitation either ahead of time or on schedule. As nervous as the Vikings must be -- and as skeptical as some observers around the league might be -- he is probably as capable as anyone of taking the ball right at his tacklers without hesitation in Week 1. "You don't really want to put parameters on his rehabilitation. You want to just let it go and see where it takes us," coach Leslie Frazier said. "Our medical staff talked all along about what this process would look like and what's necessary. We're in that process right now, so we still have to take it day by day." Despite the evolution of the league into a passing-dominated game, Peterson is far too valuable for Minnesota (No. 29 in AP Pro32) to risk him getting hit the wrong way in some meaningless drill. He wore full pads in Tuesday's practice for the first time since his injury, but Frazier went out of his way to warn the defense not to touch him. On Peterson's first carry, he realized this wasn't going to be a normal play. "These guys are definitely not going to put their hands on me. I didn't really like that too much," he said. The defensive players light-heartedly complained to their coach that Peterson is usually the one delivering the punishing hits. "One of the things they told me was, Coach, you know how he runs. What about protecting us?' Frazier said. "He's not going to change his running style, we all know that, but they have to be smart out there and they know that." Peterson smiled when asked if he'd be letting up at all. "Oh, I'm going to lower my shoulder," he said. "Those guys are probably going to get tired of touching off and tired of me putting my shoulder into them. They'll start firing back, which is pretty much what I want them to do." His first contact will come later this month, maybe in practice next week or in the team's third preseason game Aug. 24 against San Diego. As offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave put it, Peterson "has to go through the mental gymnastics as well as the physical part." So far, so good. "We're all just amazed seeing him move and even cutting like he's always done," Frazier said, recalling a video review at the start of training camp of some offensive highlights from last season that included Peterson before he got hurt: "I came up to him and said, Can you see yourself in your mind being able to do that again?' He said, Coach, I can do that right now if you let me.' In his mind, there's nothing wrong."

Quick Links

Roark and Turner lead the way as Nats hold on to top Giants

Roark and Turner lead the way as Nats hold on to top Giants

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night at AT&T Park.

How it happened: This Trea Turner and Bryce Harper combination at the top of the Nationals' lineup has potential.

Turner has been doing his part for over a week now, continuing to look like a player who can lead the Nats to new heights with his production from the leadoff spot. And on Thursday night in San Francisco, Harper followed the rookie's lead with a strong effort hitting behind him.

Turner went 2-for-4 with a walk, a run and a steal. After going hitless in his previous five games, Harper smoked an RBI double to score Turner from first in the top of the sixth. As Turner rounded third and charged home, his helmet flew off behind his head, a subtle ode to the man who drove him in.

Turner had one of three straight two-out RBI singles hit by the Nats in the top of the second inning alone. Danny Espinosa got the first to score Wilson Ramos. Tanner Roark then landed the second to score Ryan Zimmerman before Turner brought home Espinosa.

That inning was the lowest moment for Johnny Cueto, who lasted a season-low five innings. Roark, on the other hand, was surgical through seven innings of one-run ball. 

The Nats pitching staff hummed like a well-oiled machine until the bottom of the ninth inning when Jonathan Papelbon took over. He faced one batter - Brandon Crawford, who flew out - before manager Dusty Baker got Oliver Perez warming in his bullpen. Papelbon would stay in to allow two baserunners before getting the hook. That simply does not happen if he had not given up six earned runs in his previous two outings and it shows exactly how little confidence the Nats have in their closer at the moment.

Perez replaced Papelbon, but didn't finish the inning. He loaded the bases by walking Trevor Brown, then allowed a run on a Gregor Blanco infield grounder that was charged to Papelbon. Blanco hit a laser groundball to Anthony Rendon, who bobbled it before throwing it to second, where Espinosa also bobbled it to botch the forceout.

After Perez, it was Shawn Kelley who came in and shut it down with a strikeout of Angel Pagan with the bases loaded. Papelbon, by the way, has now been tagged with earned runs in three straight outings.

The Nationals won their second straight game after losing six of their previous eight.

What it means: The Nats beat the Giants in their first head-to-head matchup of the season. They moved to 60-42 overall and sit five games up on the Miami Marlins in the NL East with exactly 60 games left to play.

Roark too much for Giants: Roark entered Thursday as the less-heralded of the two starting pitchers, but the Nats right-hander thoroughly out-dueled Cueto in a performance that was typical of his strong 2016 season. Roark went seven innings with one run surrendered on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts on 111 total pitches. It was the eighth time this season that Roark has gone at least seven innings with one earned run or fewer allowed. Only Cubs lefty Jon Lester, with nine such starts, has done that more. Roark moved to 10-6 on the year and currently holds a 2.96 ERA.

Turner lights the fuse: The Nats' issues in the leadoff spot may soon become a distant memory. Turner continued to set the table brilliantly on Thursday night with two hits, a walk, a run and a steal. He fills up box scores like no one else on the Nationals right now and the impact he's having on their lineup as a whole as profound. This was the fifth time in his last nine games that Turner has reached base at least twice and the second straight outing he's been on three times. Turner's steal pushed him to 6-for-6 on attempts this season in just 14 total games. Including the minor leagues, he's 31-of-33 this year.

Turner also fared well defensively. Despite being new to center field and playing in a new ballpark, Turner made all the outs that were hit to him. He even reeled in a leaping catch at the wall for the first out of the bottom of the fifth. Turner backed up all the way to the wall and jumped to catch a Mac Williams flyball. The jump may not have been necessary, but he displayed solid instincts near the wall for a guy who is learning on the job out there.

Harper shows some life: Before Harper's RBI double to the left field corner in the sixth, the reigning MVP was 0-for-19 in his last 21 at-bats. As off as he's looked at times this season, Harper had reached one of his lowest points. The double, though was absolutely crushed and it gave the Nats a nice insurance run against a team that has proven resilient in the past.

Up next: The Nats and Giants play another late one with a 10:15 p.m. ET start on Friday night. Max Scherzer (10-6, 2.92) will take the mound for the Nats opposite right-hander Jeff Samardzija (9-6, 4.22).

[RELATED: 'Baseball in the District' - Harper's slump, trade deadline]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

Quick Links

GIF: Foul ball results in weird moment between Braves player and fan

GIF: Foul ball results in weird moment between Braves player and fan

Uh, that's not supposed to happen.

A fan at Turner Field on Thursday night reached into the field of play to catch a flyball and got a lot more than just a souvenir. He caught it right before Braves outfeilder Chase d'Arnaud came charging in. d'Arnau coudl not stop his momentum and ended up face-to-face with the fan, appearing to nearly give him a kiss on the replay.

It was weird. See for yourself:

[RELATED: 'Baseball in the District' - Harper's slump, trade deadline]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

Quick Links

Despaigne allows four key runs in 6-2 Orioles loss

Despaigne allows four key runs in 6-2 Orioles loss

Twins 6, Orioles 2

Winner-Pressly (5-5)
Loser-Despaigne (0-2)

THE GOOD: In his first start since July 8, Ubaldo Jimenez delivered a creditable performance against the Twins. Jimenez allowed one run on five hits in five innings. He struck out eight and walked three. 

THE BAD: Odrisamer Despaigne followed Jimenez and he gave up four runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings. The Twins scored four runs in the seventh to break a 2-2 tie.

Chaz Roe allowed the sixth run. 

The Orioles had won the first five games of the season series with the Twins.

MORE ORIOLES: HOW HR DERBY HAS AFFECTED O'S (OR NOT) IN PAST

THE UGLY: How often are two runners tagged out at home in one inning? 

In the fourth inning, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo were thrown out at home on consecutive plays. 

Third baseman Eduardo Escobar threw home to nab Davis. Right fielder Max Kepler fired home to catch Trumbo. 

BREAKING THE SLUMP: Trumbo had been 0-for-18 until his fourth inning double. 

Chris Davis, who broke an 0-for-24 slump with a bunt single on Wednesday night, went 2-for-4. 

JOSEPH WITH NO RBIS: With his 0-for-3, Caleb Joseph now has 101 at-bats without an RBI.

LEADING IT OFF: Adam Jones hit his third leadoff home run on Kyle Gibson’s first pitch of the game. Jones has 19 this season. 

With his next home run, Jones will become the fourth Oriole to hit 20 this season. 

Jonathan Schoop has 17. If he hits three more, the Orioles will have five 20 home run hitters for the first time since 2012.

UP NEXT: The Orioles begin a three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays on Friday night. Kevin Gausman (2-7, 3.77) faces Marco Estrada (5-4, 2.94).

The Orioles (58-43) lead Toronto (57-43) by 1 ½ games in the AL East.