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NaVorro Bowman, Adrian Peterson feel each other's pain

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Adrian Peterson knows what’s going through NaVorro Bowman’s head as the two prepare to meet, both literally and figuratively, on the Levi’s Stadium sod on Monday Night Football.

It was three years ago when Peterson, a six-time Pro Bowl running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was making his return from an ACL injury and, yes, Peterson said he reached out “once or twice” this offseason to Bowman, who will be playing in a regular-season game for the first time since blowing out his left knee in the NFC title game on Jan. 19, 2014.

“Just watching him, it’s the preseason, but it doesn’t look like he’s coming off an ACL injury,” said Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP after rushing for 2,097 yards, eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s record set in 1984. And yes, that was in Peterson’s first year back from his ACL injury.

“So with that, I have so much respect for him because I know how hard it is to get up every morning and push yourself to get back to 100 percent. And the way that he is playing, it’s just a testimony of the hard work he put in. It’s showing, so I’m happy for him.”

In Bowman’s first preseason action, against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 23, the three-time All-Pro inside linebacker played three snaps … and registered three tackles, including two for a loss.

The next week, he played one half and sacked the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning twice and racked up nine tackles.

Now? Up steps his ACL brother in arms, er, knees.

“He hasn’t played in a while, either, so I’m sure he’ll be jacked up to get out there and run the ball hard,” Bowman said of Peterson, who appeared in just one game last season before his NFL suspension after he was indicted by a grand jury for hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch. He reached a plea agreement in the case.

“He’s a great [running] back. I’m excited about the matchup. When you say I’ve been out a while, this is the back that you want to face, just to see if you’re back at the level that I was at.

“He has a motor. He’s a hard runner. You can tell he’s trying to get every single yard that there is to get out there. That’s one of the things, I think, we love as fans; just to see a running back giving it his all every single play, and that’s what he does.”

You could say the same about a certain inside linebacker.