EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It would have been easy to miss from the far side of the Minnesota Vikings' practice field. But the rush of photographers and the sound of cameras clicking drew my eyes toward two of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers, who just so happened to be forging an impromptu competition during injury rehabilitation Wednesday.
As the Vikings' organized team activity continued around them, tailback Adrian Peterson and receiver Percy Harvin would jog the 50 yards or so from one sideline to the other before racing each other up a hill on the far side. Each of the 10 heats was tight, an especially impressive feat for Peterson about five months removed from major knee surgery. Harvin, who is recovering from minor shoulder surgery, acknowledged Peterson edged him twice.
(Here's some video of their rehabilitation time courtesy the Vikings' website.)
"We were racing the whole time," Harvin said. "He got me twice. I'm out here just to push AP. He's a very important part of this team, so we need him out there. The quicker we get him out here, the better."
Peterson has folded competition into his recovery on several occasions already, having also jumped into a post-workout set of sprints among Vikings players last month. He finished ahead of the group each time, and Harvin said he jokingly told those players they should be "embarrassed."
I'm guessing Harvin has a different view now after Wednesdays' battle with Peterson.
"I've been doing drills with AP since I've been here," Harvin said. "We did a couple drills in the sand pit yesterday. So I've been out there. He's amazing. I told him the other day that I don't think he's human."
Harvin said he hopes to begin practicing with the team next week. But the natural question is what this all means for Peterson's return date. Coverage of Peterson's competitive rehabilitation has been unusually public and thus has captured attention for a process that typically goes unnoticed in the NFL. But does it mean Peterson will beat the typical timetable for ACL/MCL tears and be in the starting lineup when the Vikings open the season in September?
The most coach Leslie Frazier would say is to acknowledge what athletic trainer Eric Sugarman told him about Wednesday's workout.
"[Sugarman] was telling me that they looked real good," Frazier said. "The good thing is those guys are competing, they push one another and that's good for us. Two great athletes like that pushing each other in competition in their rehab, that's a good thing."