The wait between rushes for Adrian Peterson will reach 372 days when the Minnesota Vikings start their season at San Francisco.
For a player whose aggressive style with the ball was already labeled as angry, well, that first carry could really cause him to combust.
"Three or four seconds before the snap when I'm going to get the carry, I'm going to tell myself, 'OK, just be patient.' Because I know how I can be, and I know that if I hit that thing full speed, I don't think it's going to work out as well because you have to give those guys up front time to work," said Peterson, whose return from NFL exile will formally end on Monday night when he faces the 49ers.
He added: "Especially in my case, anticipating that first run."
Peterson gained a ho-hum 75 yards on 21 rushes in Minnesota's opener last year, and little did anyone realize that would stand as his total for 2014. Placed on paid leave while the child abuse case against him went through the court system, then suspended by the league under the personal conduct policy, Peterson went nearly nine months between activities of any kind with the team.
Still one of the franchise's most invaluable assets at age 30, Peterson was held out of all five preseason games, a precautionary practice the Vikings have followed since 2011. So the buildup to that first carry could have hardly been bigger.
"Oh, man, you can just feel his presence from the moment he walks into this facility that he's ready to play," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "He's had an entire year off, and we're excited for him. We can't wait to watch him running wild on Monday."
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, chomping on chewing gum while relaxing on a couch in a room inside the team facility, Peterson casually yet confidently predicted a big year.