Vikings Quotes - Frazier and Sugarman - December 26

Posted Dec 26, 2011


Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman

Good afternoon guys, I hope you had a good Christmas, I really enjoyed mine. It was great to be able to be home and be with family and also traveling back home after a big win for our football team. A lot of guys contributed to that win, which made it even more satisfying. The big topic for us has not only been our win, but the fact that Adrian Peterson was injured in that ball game, suffered a very serious injury and of course Christian Ponder suffered a concussion during the ball game as well. Before I talk to you about the previous game and also the upcoming game I wanted to have our Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman come up and share some of the details about some of the things we found out after the MRI with Adrian, and he will also be able to answer some questions with Christian regarding his concussion.

Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman

Thanks, so just as an opening statement I think it’s important to explain exactly what happened to Adrian and his injury so we can end all the speculation. First of all, he did tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He also did tear the medial-collateral ligament in that knee. He has some injury to both the medial and lateral meniscus in the knee, which is a non-displaced injury. He posterior cruciate ligament is normal, non-injured, as is his lateral-collateral ligament, normal and non-injured. Most importantly all the chondral surface in his knee is also non-injured and that is a very positive thing for this injury. It’s not uncommon to see a medial-collateral ligament along with an ACL and certainly you usually see meniscal injuries along with an ACL as well. So that is the specific injury that Adrian has. So moving forward, what happens next, right now Adrian is here currently doing rehab, basically our goal now with Adrian is restore his range of motion, decrease the swelling and keep his quadriceps strong in order to prepare him for surgery, which is going to probably be in the next 7-10 days. We have not totally determined who the surgeon of choice is going to be, we will determine that in the next couple of days along with Adrian and his agent. From there, he will have the surgery and come back and we expect him to rehab with us. After that process, what is the expected recovery time is the first question I’m sure you guys will ask, so I am just going to give you my answer for that. We expect most people to recover from this injury in 8-9 months and instead of comparing Adrian to any other player at any level that has ever had an anterior cruciate ligament, and they happen every day, I really would like Adrian to stand on his own merit. Adrian is, I feel, very unique. If there was anyone that is going to be able to recover from this injury, it’s Adrian Peterson, and you may ask why, and it’s because Adrian has a great work ethic. Adrian has the DNA to heal quickly, which he has shown in the past. He certainly will have the desire and the mental toughness to be able to get through the rehab process, which will take months and months as you know, so I think if anyone can get better quickly and safely in that time period, it would be Adrian Peterson.

I am happy to take any questions that you may have.

Q: You said 8-9 months for a recovery, what are your expectations at that point, that he would be able to be on the field, or just sort of testing things out at that point?

A: We are going to hold the goal to have him ready for the first game. Although I ask the permission to please let Coach Frazier update that process as we go through the protocol. The goal is around 8-9 months, around 8 months is going to probably be our first game. So we do think the potential is to have him ready for the beginning portion of next season, so that is going to be our goal

Q: What is the most important thing with a player like this, that is trying to go through this rehab process, is it patience, is it keeping your emotion in check?

A: I think that every player is different and we approach every player differently, and it’s very important to know your players and their personality and, certainly, Adrian has been injured and I have had the opportunity with my staff to work with him on several occasions. It’s going to be important to keep him in check. The anterior cruciate ligament when it is first reconstructed and put in, in months two and three it actually declines in strength, and then once you reach the third month is starts climbing up that ladder and gets stronger and stronger through the process, so it is really important to keep the athlete in check and just follow your protocol as it has worked in the past for just about everybody else, and hit your goals when you are supposed to hit them, if not sooner, and just keep the athlete, safe and really protect them from themselves, especially Adrian Peterson, because he works so hard.

Q: Is the recovery truly different for every person, or based on what you have seen from this injury, are there any examples you can look at from the past compared to what he is dealing with?

A: I really don’t want to compare Adrian to any other athlete I have worked with or any other athlete that has played in the NFL that has had an ACL injury, because Adrian is a unique individual and we are just going to take him and his protocol step by step and see how he attacks it and has success.

Q: Can you talk about any similarities with the injury, and what Daunte Culpepper went through?

A: I wasn’t here with Daunte so I have no comparison.

Christian Ponder suffered a concussion in the second half of the game. We took him out of the game per the NFL protocol because he was having symptoms when he walked off the field after that hit. He is doing great; we now will take him through the NFL-mandated protocol, which is the impact test, getting him to be asymptomatic, getting him to exercise without symptoms and then getting cleared by a physician and ultimately the NFL outside neurologist. He is doing excellent today, he really doesn’t have any symptoms and I hope for a fast and speedy recovery.

Head Coach Leslie Frazier

One of the things that Adrian (Peterson) had mentioned to Eric (Sugarman) and others, to the fans, was to stay positive because he is going to remain positive, keep him in your prayers and he felt like that would really help as he is working towards getting back on the field next season. He is extremely optimistic, positive, even in the midst of rehab ahead of him, he is extremely positive about being able to come back and be as good or better than he was before and that’s the Adrian we’re all accustomed to seeing. He sets his goals extremely high and he’s one of those guys who, when he puts his mind to it, there’s no reason to ever doubt that he can’t achieve what he really puts his mind to. We’re looking forward to his attacking this rehab like he’s attacked every offseason, to come back and play and be even better than he was before and I know with Eric and our medical staff, they’re going to everything they can to get him back on the field and ready to go when we line up in that first football game next season. As I mentioned earlier, just a good overall effort by our football team to go on the road and get a win against a Redskins team that had just come off a big win against the Giants the week before and to handle some of that adversity that occurred during that game, to see the number of players who stepped up like they did, whether it be Toby Gerhart, Joe (Webb) coming into the game when Christian (Ponder) was injured, some of our defensive guys just stepping up, Mistral Raymond coming back and getting an interception for us, the big caused fumble by Brian Robison as well. A lot of good things in that football game, Marcus Sherels stepping up, Joe Berger filling in for Steve Hutchinson, Brandon Fusco getting snaps, a lot of guys contributed to that win on Saturday which really should be a spring board for us as we prepare for this ball game against Chicago.

Q: How much do you have to tweak the offense with Adrian out for this game?

A: One of the things about Adrian’s absence earlier in the season, we had a chance to get Toby some extended snaps and we really haven’t altered the offense by any means. Toby has done a very good job in Adrian’s absence, did a great job Saturday of stepping in and performing and rushing for over 100 yards. We really haven’t had to alter things and we really don’t plan to. We look forward to eventually getting Adrian back on the field but we don’t think we have to really alter the offense.

Q: With all the information you have gotten, are you approaching it as Adrian will return Week 1 in 2012?

A: Yeah, just knowing Adrian and just knowing how hard he works, obviously everybody responds differently to surgery along with rehab but the way he attacks things and how optimistic he is, I’m believing and hoping, we all are, that that will be the case and if for some reason along the way there is a setback for whatever reason, I’ll be informed of it, but I’m pretty optimistic that that goal is a realistic goal.

Q: You went through an ACL tear. What range of emotions did you experience and what is Adrian going through?

A: We talked a little bit on the plane about that and I know those first 24 hours, it’s a test of your mental fortitude as you’re trying to come to grips with the fact that this is a possibility and until you actually hear the words from the doctors after that MRI, you’re still in a little bit of denial and once you get that information, you have to start processing it. I just wanted to be able to encourage him. Medicine and the way things are done today are so different than 20 plus years ago. Guys come back from ACLs all the time now in our League and perform at a high level. It’s a different time and because of who he is and as Eric mentioned earlier, his work ethic, his desire, his genetics, if there is anybody who can make it back from this and be as good as they were before, it would be Adrian Peterson and that’s what I’ve tried to encourage him with. We talked yesterday on Christmas Day and told him that again. He’ll be the guy that people look at and say, ‘Wow, look at Adrian Peterson. He is just as good or better than he was before the surgery.’

Q: Is Joe Webb a viable candidate to start at quarterback for this team in the future or is Christian the guy?

A: Christian is still our number one quarterback but you do have to take a real good look at Joe as I’ve said a number of times. It’s a good situation that we have as an organization, to have two young quarterbacks that you have confidence in and each time Joe has gotten in the ball game, he’s really given us a spark and really got some things going. It’s something that we’ll have to talk about and discuss when this season is over and we’re going to try and get him more snaps in the Chicago game if we can and we still have to find out if Christian is going to be able to play this weekend as well so there are still some questions we have to get answered in that regard.

Q: Is Joe best used in a role where he takes a series or two here and there? If he starts and defensive coordinators can game plan for him, is the impact of how he plays gone?

A: That does factor in, when you’re not preparing for him and all of a sudden he comes in the ball game, it definitely makes a difference from a coordinator standpoint because they are similar quarterbacks but dissimilar in so many ways, you almost have to have two game plans if you think Joe is going to play and people do, they have a Joe Webb package because they know we use him for certain snaps and they have a defensive package for when he is on the field. It’s a little bit different when he starts or he comes into the ball game and he’s a true quarterback for a number of snaps. Those are some of things we’ll talk about as we go forward.

Q: Assuming Christian is out this week, are you curious to see what Webb can do as a starter when the defense will get a whole week to prepare for him?

A: I have a little bit of an indication of that just from when he started a year ago, but we’ll see what happens. We’re hoping that Christian gets through the concussion tests and he’s able to play this week. It’s important for us to continue to get him the snaps that he needs to continue his development. That’s a big part of what we want to be able to get accomplished long-term, seeing him play at the end of this season. So, I’m hoping that he’ll be cleared and he can play on Sunday.

Q: Would he have to be cleared by a certain day for him to play?

A: Yeah. We don’t want to get to Friday or Saturday wondering if he’s going to get cleared. We need him to be able to take some snaps in practice and make a determination whether or not he can really function at the level we need him to function.

Q: Was there any discussion internally that you would shut Peterson down after the high ankle sprain?

A: No. It was more just ascertaining where he was physically and whether or not it was safe for him to get back on the field. Once he was cleared medically, and was able to go out and perform and practice, and perform a week ago against New Orleans and even in this game he did a lot of good things. So, no, to answer your question, no.

Q: You said you spoke with Peterson, how hard is he taking this?

A: I really get the impression that he’s already begun to move forward. He’s not down in the dumps or feeling sorry for himself like some people might think that he would be. He’s really not. The moment the injury occurred, that was a difficult time, for sure. When he was on the field, he kind of knew, at least he suspected, what might have occurred. That was a tough time. But he has really begun to move on and begun to think about what’s ahead of him and how he’s going to approach his rehabilitation; which is one of the reasons why we’re all optimistic that he’s going to be successful in his rehab.

Q: I know a surgeon hasn’t been determined yet, but have you decided if he’ll be doing all of his rehab here and any sort of general time frame on when you expect him to be at certain points in that rehab?

A: That would be the goal; to have him do his rehab here with our medical staff. Our guys have done a great job with other guys who have had to come back from some very severe injuries, a la E.J. Henderson. But, no time table yet. Everything will be set up based off of the surgery. Whenever the surgery date is, that’s when the time table will begin.

Q: How is Hutchinson doing?

A: I’ll learn a little bit more as the week goes on. His symptoms have subsided to a degree, but not to the point where he’s been cleared.

Q: And Asher Allen?

A: About the same. He’s a little bit ahead of Hutch; he’s a little farther along. He has, maybe, one more test he needs to take and I think we may have him for practice on Wednesday.

Q: What did you see defensively this game that you liked?

A: I like the fact that we got that interception. That was good to see that in the second half. That was a big play for us. It really, kind of, sealed the deal. Just the energy that our guys played with, the way they ran around and made some plays in some clutch situations. To hold the Redskins, on a number of occasions when they got short fields, to field goals, that was a big deal and it had a lot to do with our being able to win the game. I think there were two or three times we held them to field goals when they actually started with minus-40 or plus-territory drives. That’s tough on a defense. But our guys stood up, made some plays, held them to field goals, and gave us an opportunity to have a chance to win the game at the end. I really liked the way they finished the game in a two minute situation; just understanding that situation, not being over-concerned about yards, but knowing how to win the game. That’s something we’ve had trouble with on both sides of the ball. But, being able to finish the game was a big deal.

Q: Do you have running backs here today to look at, or will you promote Caleb King?

A: We are probably going to promote Caleb to the 53 and then make a determination whether or not we’d activate him. But we’re probably going to promote him. We may bring in some other guys for practice purposes as well; we’re going to talk about that.

Q: How did Cedric Griffin look?

A: Cedric played well. He was active; he was really into it, in all areas. He did a really good job. I’m really proud of the way he played, the way he approached things throughout the week in practice. He had his best week of practice and it showed in the way he played on Saturday. He was very competitive, he played smart, executed the techniques that we asked of him, repeatedly. So, that’s really, really encouraging and it’ll be great to see that again this Sunday against Chicago. I was really encouraged by his play and his attitude and his effort as well.

Q: What changed?

A: You know, he could probably answer that better than me. We’ve had a number of discussions during the week about where I saw him at and what I thought he needed to do to help this football team and his response was exactly what we needed. It would have been very, very difficult to walk off that field with a win yesterday if he didn’t play the way he played. He played well enough to give us a chance to win that football game. It was very, very encouraging to see his play.

Q: Did he earn your confidence then for next season?

A: We have another game left in this season, and in our league, every week, you’re always being evaluated. I haven’t lost my confidence in Cedric along the way. What I’ve tried to do is encourage him to regain his confidence, because I believe that he can do certain things that he has to believe he can do. Saturday, he executed some of those things without any inhibitions, without any concerns. He just played freely. If we get that out of him, which I expect us to going forward, there are good things ahead for him.