EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings three-time rushing champ was on the field Tuesday while teammates practiced.
Running back Adrian Peterson did some running off to the side under the watch of Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman in the early portion of practice.
According to Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Tuesday was not the first time Peterson has run since suffering a torn meniscus in September in a Week 2 game against Green Bay.
"He's on his normal routine," Zimmer said, later adding, "He's doing good. He's probably ahead of schedule, I guess, I don't know. "
Zimmer said he wasn't sure how close Peterson was to returning to practice, but the All-Pro running back's presence was encouraging to his teammates.
"He looked good," said left guard Alex Boone. "It kind of caught me off guard a little bit.
"We were doing a little walk through, and he was running around," he added. "We look forward to his return."
Said wide receiver Stefon Diggs: "I like seeing [Adrian] running around, seeing the progress is going really well."
Peterson is Minnesota's all-time leader in attempts (2,412), rushing yards (11,725) and touchdowns (97).
Zimmer said he would let Peterson's rehab play out and wasn't concerned with a timetable.
"We'll worry about all that when that happens," Zimmer said. "Right now we have to focus on Dallas and their team."
Happy Birthday, Stefon Diggs
Diggs celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, and there's only one gift he really wants: to be back on the field helping his teammates get a win.
"I hate watching. I'm a competitor," Diggs said of missing last week's game at Detroit with a knee injury. "One side of me likes to see my guys do [their thing], but the other side of me is, 'Get your [butt] out in the game and make some plays."
Diggs said he plans to be back in action at U.S. Bank Stadium for *Thursday Night Football *against the Cowboys.
"Yeah, I'm ready," he said. "I feel like I just have to sharpen up on all the little things, as far as with the week off."
Diggs knows the Vikings could have their hands full against the 10-1 Cowboys, but he and his teammates haven't lost faith or fight.
"They're playing a high level," Diggs said. "They have some great players. They've been doing some great things on the back end and have some great guys on offense. It's all about confidence. Nobody's going to believe in us except for us, so, I love my guys."
Diggs' love for his teammates was reciprocated following practice on Tuesday. In the locker room, Teddy Bridgewater and Cordarrelle Patterson surrounded and "serenaded" Diggs with a downloaded "Happy Birthday" song on their phones.
"I'm old now," said Diggs.
The former fifth-round pick totaled the second-most receptions (119) in team history prior to turning 23, trailing only Percy Harvin (131).
Cranking up the intensity
The Vikings know the eyes of the football world will be on them Thursday night. Not only is the matchup in prime time and on national television, the Cowboys boast the NFL's best record at 10-1.
With Minnesota sitting at 6-5 and trying to make a postseason push, players know the time is now to get rolling.
"Everything is at stake," said right guard Brandon Fusco. "Every game now is like a playoff game for us.
"We've got to win," he added. "We lose this game and we're falling behind a little bit."
Boone was asked how the atmosphere has been at U.S. Bank Stadium so far this season, and what he expects against Dallas.
"(It's been) phenomenal," Boone said. "And I expect it to be electric on Thursday night. If not, we'll make it electric.
"This is one of those games where it's a defining moment in our season," he added. "It could go one way or the other, and we're going to need all hands on deck to be ready to roll."
Zimmer said he wasn't about to get caught up in the hoopla of playing another nationally televised game.
"I think every week we're kind of on display," Zimmer said. "I mean we've played Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night, Thanksgiving.
"We need to execute is what we need to do," he added. "We don't worry about displays, we need to execute."
View images of the Dallas Cowboys (10-1) key contributors of offense, defense and special teams heading into Thursday Night's matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings held their third practice of the week on Tuesday.
Joe Berger (concussion), Marcus Sherels (rib) and Sharrif Floyd (knee) did not practice. Harrison Smith (ankle), Captain Munnerlyn (ankle), Everson Griffen (shoulder), Sam Bradford (ankle), Mackensie Alexander (groin), Diggs (knee) and Eric Kendricks (hip) were limited. Jeremiah Sirles (hip), Adam Thielen (shoulder) and Terence Newman (neck) were full participants.
For the Cowboys: CB Morris Claiborne (groin), LB Justin Durant (hamstring), T Chaz Green (back), LB Sean Lee (illness) and S J.J. Wilcox (thigh) did not participate. S Barry Church (forearm), DE Jack Crawford (foot), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (back), DT Terrell McClain (thigh) and T Tyron Smith (back/hip) were limited. DE David Irving (illness) was a full participant.