Surgery could start Peterson's second act

MINNEAPOLIS -- For the third consecutive offseason, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has plans to go under the knife. ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Wednesday night that Peterson soon will have groin surgery in Philadelphia. Dr. William Meyers, who operated on Peterson's sports hernia last season, will perform the surgery.

Although this operation is arguably minor compared to the knee surgery Peterson had at the end of 2011, or the sports hernia operation he had after 2012, it's still a sign of the wear and tear he can expect to face as he gets into the final years of his prime.

The decision is probably the right one for Peterson. Having surgery now should give him plenty of time to get ready for the 2014 season, and as he's proven the past two years, he's not someone who needs much preseason work to get ready. As he gets older (he'll be 29 in March), these kinds of offseason cleanups could become more routine than he'd like.

It's a good time to ask whether the Vikings should think about giving another running back a few of Peterson's carries during the season, though it's questionable whether Toby Gerhart would want to come back for a supporting role when he could have bigger opportunities coming as a free agent this spring.

Peterson, for that matter, isn't one to ask for less work, but he might be getting to an age where both he and the Vikings are better served by an attempt to reduce his mileage somewhat.

Peterson's ticket to a lesser workload could actually come through new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who became San Diego's coach at a similar point in LaDainian Tomlinson's career. Tomlinson was 28 when Turner took over the Chargers in 2007, and as Turner leaned more on San Diego's passing game, the Chargers dialed back Tomlinson's workload. He carried 315 times in 2007 -- down 33 carries from his 31-touchdown season of 2006 and the second-fewest of his career to that point.

In 2008, Tomlinson got 292 carries at age 29, but still ran for 1,110 yards before injuries slowed him in 2009.

Peterson is still healthy and effective enough to take on a bigger workload than that, but the Vikings would be better-served on offense, and Peterson's longevity would be helped, if they can get more balance. Remember how effective their pick-your-poison backfield was with Peterson and Brett Favre in 2009? Peterson carried 314 times that season -- to date the fewest carries he has logged in a season where he's played all 16 games.

Groin surgery shouldn't prove to be a major impediment to Peterson this fall. It'll help him get his top speed back, which he seemed to be missing at the end of the season, and he'll be ready in plenty of time for training camp. But at this juncture in his career, it is a reminder that the Vikings should think about how to best manage Peterson.