NORMAN, Okla. -- Adrian Peterson's teammates at Oklahoma
have a new reason to stay away from the bruising, record-setting
Peterson is back in practice after missing seven games with a
broken collarbone, but some of the Sooners have been a bit
reluctant to test whether he's fully healed.
"There's a couple guys that's been kind of hesitant to come up
and hit me, so I've been hitting the ground a couple times and
lowering my shoulder thinking I'm about to take on contact,"
Peterson said Wednesday, addressing reporters for the first time in
Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Peterson refused to wear a blue
jersey that would make him off-limits to contact. But Peterson has
relented and worn a yellow cap over his helmet, which points out to
defenders that he's recovering from an injury.
Boise State doesn't figure to take it easy on Peterson in the
Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
"Plenty of time has passed," Stoops said. "According to
doctors, with that break he is no different right now than any
other player just being susceptible to breaking it. Just like
anyone, if you fall on it wrong, he or anyone else could break
Peterson, the 2004 Heisman runner-up, was the nation's No. 2
rusher when he injured himself on a fourth-quarter touchdown run
Oct. 14 against Iowa State.
A junior, Peterson is considered a likely first-round pick in
next year's NFL draft if he decides to turn pro. He said the
possibility of jeopardizing his future wasn't a factor when he
decided to return.
"I've been playing the game since I was 7," Peterson said. "A
lot of guys are speculating, saying this, saying that he's not
coming back and all that. Why should he play? But I love the game.
That's why I play."
Peterson's college career started in record-setting fashion when
he reeled off an unprecedented nine straight 100-yard rushing
games. He set an NCAA freshman record with 1,925 yards rushing and
became the first freshman to finish as high as second place in the
Heisman Trophy voting.
Injuries have been a problem since then. A sprained ankle kept
him out of several games last season and made him a non-factor in a
loss to Texas. He also dislocated his left shoulder in fall
practice before his freshman year, re-aggravated the injury during
the regular season and then had surgery in the offseason.
He had 935 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns through six games
before the injury this season. Oklahoma (11-2) won all seven of its
games without him, including the Big 12 championship, to earn the
matchup with 12-0 Boise State.
Peterson needs only 150 yards to match Oklahoma's career rushing
record, held by 1978 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims.
"It's crazy how everything happened, breaking my collarbone. It
was never anything I really thought about because I had eight more
games to play, it was only 150 yards," Peterson said. "Now that
it's here and it's presented itself, it would be nice to go out and
get the record."
Beyond that, Peterson is undecided on his future and the NFL
"I haven't came to no decision as far as coming out," Peterson
said. "I love the players, I love all the coaches, the guys I'm
Peterson said he has talked to former Oklahoma teammates, who
have told him how much faster play in the NFL can be. He has also
weighed concerns about being injured and considered the business
side of professional football.
"You can make it difficult on yourself if you want to. I hear
different things from family, friends, guys on the team," Peterson
said. "What it boils down to is it's my decision, what I feel like
is best for me."
Peterson said he plans to meet with Stoops in the next few days,
but won't make a decision about his future until after the Fiesta
In recent years, safety Brodney Pool and defensive tackle Tommie
Harris have left Oklahoma after their junior seasons to go to the
"My whole time that I've been here, I try and just make sure
the players have accurate information," Stoops said. "Where I
feel players make a mistake is when they listen to people who don't