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Peterson's remarkable recovery not surprising

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Peterson's remarkable recovery not surprising

When Adrian Peterson walks into FedEx Field on Sunday, it will no doubt be an emotional moment for the Vikings’ running back.

The last time he played there, Peterson left the turf seated on a cart, his season – and perhaps his livelihood – in jeopardy. An MRI later revealed the four-time Pro Bowl selection had suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee after a hit from Redskins safety DeJon Gomes.

Injuries such as the one Peterson suffered can often derail a career or, at the very least, diminish productivity. But he beat the odds and returned to the Vikings’ lineup for Week 1 – more than two months sooner than the majority of players who sustain similar ligament tears.

“If you hold your head down during [difficult] situations,” Peterson said on a conference call with Washington area reporters this week, “it doesn’t help the process. It was a little bit tough at home on Christmas [the day after the injury], but I just had to change my mind frame and head in the direction I had set for myself.”

Not only has Peterson recovered faster than most, he’s 95-percent of the player he was prior to the injury, Minnesota Coach Leslie Frazier estimates.

“He’s pretty close,” Frazier said. “If you ask him, he’ll probably say he’s about 5-percent away from being where he needs to be. The runs he’s made the last couple of weeks tells me that he’s real close to being the Adrian that we’re so familiar with.”

Peterson enters Sunday’s game ranked seventh in carries (96) and eighth in rushing yards (420) for a Vikings’ team that’s off to a surprising 4-1 start.

Through the first five games of 2011, Peterson averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The 27-year-old is averaging 4.4 this season.

“He’s still explosive. Still making all the cuts. Still running hard,” Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield said. 

A year ago, Peterson had already missed three games with an ankle injury when his fifth NFL campaign took a sharp – and painful – turn for the worse in the Vikings’ eventual 33-26 victory over the Redskins. He was carrying the ball into the end zone when Gomes hit him on the side of his knee in the third quarter.

Peterson still looks away when video of the injury is shown on television.

He also said he doesn’t hold a grudge against Gomes.

“I don’t think anything was done intentionally,” Peterson said. “He was just out there playing ball and it happened. I don’t have anything against him.”

Redskins’ safety Madieu Williams, who played alongside Peterson as a member of the Vikings from 2008-2010, said Peterson’s dogged determination is the biggest reason for his remarkable return.

“Knowing the work ethic he has and dedication he has for the game of football,” Williams said. “It doesn’t surprise me at all.” 

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Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Will the Redskins go with a defensive player in the first round of the 2017 Draft?

Finlay: The Redskins haven't drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2011 when the franchise grabbed Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick. In fact, the team has only drafted five defensive players in the first round over the last 15 years. 

History suggests Washington will stay away from a defensive player, but sources in Ashburn have suggested otherwise. Assuming the talent is there when the 'Skins pick at No. 17, Scot McCloughan would like to bolster the team's defensive line specifically. 

Things will get complicated should Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook slide to 17. Rich Tandler certainly would like to see the Burgundy and Gold add a top-flight running back.

Tandler: Many fans believe that conducting a draft is like going into a grocery store with a list. Defensive lineman is at the top of the list so you go to aisle 12 and put a DL in the cart. Safety is next on the list so you push the cart over to that aisle and pick out one of those.

No, a draft is much more unpredictable. There might not be a defensive lineman who is close to worthy of the No. 17 pick when the Redskins are on the clock. Talk of taking the best available player is like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. But if you’re reaching for need in a draft, you’re losing that draft. Sure, if a player in a position of need is just a spot or two down from the best available you think about it. Still, staying true to your board is the way to build a team.

The other thing to consider here is that we haven’t gone through free agency yet. Needs will shift after that. Suppose the Redskins sign two starting-caliber D-linemen and lose both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in free agency? Defensive line is no longer a five-alarm priority and receiver will be. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Twice in the last five seasons Pierre Garçon logged more than 1,000 yards receiving as a member of the Washington Redskins, including the 2016 season. He's caught 376 passes in Washington for 21 touchdowns over 74 games.

Outside of a foot injury that cost his six games in 2012, Garçon has been arguably the Redskins most durable wide receiver, and he's known to be a hard worker in the weight room and the practice field. 

Despite all that, Garçon doesn't know that he will be back with the Burgundy and Gold once free agency opens. In fact, that uncertainty led the 30-year-old wideout to post a simple question on his Instagram page.

#YallHiring?

A post shared by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

The top of the Redskins offseason questions remains QB Kirk Cousins. Garçon and fellow wideout DeSean Jackson are headed for free agency, as is standout defensive lineman Chris Baker. Reports show that the team has made little to no contact with any of the players or their representatives, though many conversations could be planned for the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis later this month. 

Garçon's question seems simple, but the answer remains a mystery. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!