EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Russ Paine had never met anyone like Adrian Peterson.
Paine has done decades of work with professional athletes, and Peterson's return to the Minnesota backfield about 8½ months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee still left him amazed.
"This guy is in the top half of one percent of the human bodies in the world," said Paine, a longtime physical therapist in Houston who supervised much of Peterson's rehabilitation. "He's just an unbelievable physical specimen. Those guys tend to recover quicker, but I've had some guys who just weren't tough enough to do it. So you've got to suck it up."
Peterson also suffered a complete rupture of the medial collateral ligament, slightly delaying his ability to begin putting weight on the leg after the surgery, making restoration of his knee's range of motion more challenging. But, Paine said, Peterson had that movement back in no time.
Peterson's unwavering prediction that he'd play for the Vikings in their season opener after the injury last Christmas Eve proved to be an honest belief, not a competition-driven delusion.
"I hope that I inspire a lot of people. Just to change their mentality, I think that's the biggest part," said Peterson, who rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries last Sunday in Minnesota's overtime win over Jacksonville. He added: "I understood that if I kept doing my therapy and kept working hard that it would be OK."