What Peterson hearing timetable means

MINNEAPOLIS -- The next step in Adrian Peterson's bid to get back on the field is reportedly set for Monday -- which means the Minnesota Vikings will play at least one more game without the running back.

According to multiple reports Tuesday, Peterson's grievance for reinstatement will be heard Monday, meaning arbitrator Shyam Das should issue a decision before the Vikings' Nov. 23 home game against the Green Bay Packers. The timing of the hearing, though, would keep Peterson out for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears -- and it opens up one scenario in which Peterson could miss the rest of the season.

By the time Peterson's hearing is held, the Vikings will have only six games left on their schedule, meaning he'd be within a window where he could miss the rest of the season if the league decided to suspend him. The NFL plans to review Peterson's case under its personal conduct policy. If Das were to rule Peterson should stay on the exempt list until the league's investigation is complete, any further discipline could keep Peterson out for the remainder of the regular season. The league's enhanced domestic violence policy gives commissioner Roger Goodell the right to suspend players for up to six games (whether Peterson will be subject to a policy updated in August for an incident that happened in May is just one of the questions muddying the case), but if Das were to decline Peterson reinstatement during the league's investigation, even a shorter suspension could consume the rest of Peterson's season by the time it's announced.

That means there's plenty riding on the hearing for Peterson -- and he also has a vested interest in a quick decision since a Friday or Saturday reinstatement might make the Vikings wary of activating Peterson for the Packers game with so little practice time following his 2½-month layoff. But if the Vikings are still deliberating about how they'll handle Peterson should he be reinstated, they've got a clear deadline to meet and won't have to react on the fly like they did when Peterson was indicted Sept. 12. They need to make a clear, well-reasoned move this time, after public backlash forced them to reverse their Sept. 15 decision to keep Peterson on the field during his legal proceedings. It would be in their best interests to have that decision mapped out by next week, in the event the running back is reinstated quickly.

We're still a ways from knowing the outcome of Peterson's case, but we at least know the venues in which it will be decided. That should give all parties time to get ready, and preparedness, hopefully, will eliminate some of the guesswork that has characterized this process so far.