- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Adrian Peterson has always called himself a quick healer. Now he says he’s ready to come back from his latest knee surgery even sooner than he originally thought.

Peterson told Dash Radio on Friday that he plans to return to the Minnesota Vikings backfield on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. His surprise announcement comes four days after he reiterated that he was targeting the game against Green Bay on Dec. 24 as his first game back after having surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“It really boils down to how I feel,” Peterson told the internet radio station, of which he is an investor. “What it really came down to me in my heart knowing, especially after these past two days, that I can go out there and be productive.”

Peterson practiced Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in Week 2 against the Packers. He practiced on Thursday and Friday as well and was not listed on the team’s injury report, further evidence that he is fully healthy.

“I was really uncertain,” Peterson said of starting the week. “I had been cutting on my own on the field, but it’s different when you have guys to avoid and you’re playing the actual game of football.”

Peterson said he spoke to coach Mike Zimmer, head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman and his wife as he contemplated making the return one week sooner than he initially expected.

“We just have to make sure everything is good with the doctors and everything going forward, that’s all,” Zimmer said after practice on Friday.

According to Peterson, the wait is over.

In the end, he said he couldn’t imagine sitting out one more week, watching the Vikings (7-6) lose and possibly be eliminated from the postseason race without him on the field. Peterson said he didn’t expect the Vikings would lose to the Colts (6-7) at home without him, but he wanted to make sure he was out there to help a team that believes it has to win its final three games to make the playoffs.

It’s a big lift for the Vikings, whose offense has struggled to score points and sustain drives in short-yardage situations. Peterson had just 50 yards on 31 carries behind a porous offensive line in the first two weeks, but adding a player with his playmaking ability to a unit that is last in the league in rushing offense can only help matters.

Now the only thing that remains to be seen is how quickly Peterson can get back to the explosive runner he has always been. By the time the Vikings and Colts kickoff on Sunday, three months will have passed since Peterson’s injury and it could take some time for him to work his way back up to playing speed.

It also marks a bit of a risk for Peterson from the standpoint of his long-term future. The 31-year-old is set to make $18 million next season and his contract will almost certainly need to be renegotiated if he wants to remain in Minnesota. Another injury over these final three weeks or subpar production could cost him if he hits the open market.

But Peterson doesn’t appear to be concerned with that end of things. He chose the surgery he did to increase his chances of long-term health. Had he chosen a different method to repair the injury, he likely would have missed less time this season but would have been more likely to have lingering knee issues later in his career and his life.

“After a week, God was able to show me that, ‘Hey just believe in yourself and you’re here,” Peterson said. “Being out there just confirmed it that I’m ready to roll.”

The Vikings will be missing safety Harrison Smith (ankle), cornerback Trae Waynes (concussion), right guard Brandon Fusco (concussion) and receiver Laquon Treadwell (ankle) with injuries.

Running back Matt Asiata (ankle), center Joe Berger (concussion) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (abdomen) are listed as questionable.

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For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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