It's now official. Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson is active and will start Sunday's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Based on how practice went this week, anything else would have been surprising.
With that said, I wouldn't read too much into the fact that Peterson will start. As we've discussed several times over the past month, Sunday should be considered Peterson's first preseason game. I would be stunned if the Vikings let Peterson play a full game, and it would be really surprising if backup Toby Gerhart isn't the Vikings' leading rusher by the end of the day.
It's been 260 days since Peterson tore two knee ligaments. He has returned on the early side of typical timetables for such injuries, and by all accounts he has looked strong and confident in practice. There is no reason to expect him to look differently in a game, but there is also no reason to expect him -- Superman or not -- to be in condition to have a 20-carry game. It would make perfect sense if the Vikings play Gerhart three series for every, say, one series for Peterson.
This is unabashedly great news for a franchise that appeared deflated when Peterson suffered the injury on Dec. 24, 2011. But it's also important to maintain realism within that context. I don't have a copy of the Vikings' game plan for Sunday, so I can't know for sure. But it's almost unfair to imagine him picking up exactly where he left off.