Tashard Choice wasn’t the least bit surprised that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came back from major knee surgery in just eight months last season and went on to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.
Choice has known Peterson since the latter was a true freshman on the Oklahoma University football team in 2004. Choice was a red-shirt freshman at Oklahoma that season and watched Peterson rush for an NCAA freshman record 1,925 yards.
“He was then everything he is now,” said Choice. “He’s a blessed athlete and he works hard. He’s very humble and loves to compete. He’s one of my closest friends.”
Choice, who re-signed with the Bills this offseason, will get to reunite with Peterson at tonight’s exhibition game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Peterson has not been ruled out of the game, but he may not play. The Vikings may opt to hold him out until next week’s third exhibition.
Peterson was the top high school recruit in the country when he arrived at Oklahoma. He rushed for 100 or more yards in each of his first nine games. Choice got only 22 carries for 100 yards in his red-shirt freshman season.
Choice transferred to Georgia Tech for the next season, but not because he was stuck behind Peterson on the depth chart. Choice’s mom was ill and he wanted to be closer to home.
“At OU we ran a two-back system so I would have been playing with him,” Choice said. “That’s what I wanted to do. He got hurt some the last two years so I would have played. But my mom got sick so that’s why I went back home to Atlanta.”
It worked out for Choice. He rushed for 3,356 yards and 28 touchdowns for Georgia Tech, and his mom recovered.
Choice puts Peterson in a category with Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson and Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware, both All-Pros. Choice played with Johnson in college and with Ware in Dallas.
“They’re different,” Choice said. “They’re freakish. Him, Calvin Johnson and DeMarcus, they’re blessed differently, and they work hard, and on top of that they want to be the best. It’s hard to stop them.”
Tickets still are available for tonight’s 7 p.m. game. Tickets for the annual Kids Day promotion are $15 for children 14 and under with an accompanying adult ticket purchase.
Asked Wednesday about the prospect of Peterson seeing a few snaps, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said: “Are we going to utilize him, or are we going to let him wait till the next ball game? … We want to get him something these next couple of weeks.”
The Vikings have a nationally televised exhibition next week at San Francisco on NBC.
The Vikings enter tonight’s game in mostly good health. Starting fullback Jerome Felton had an appendectomy this week and is out. Reserve defensive tackle Christian Ballard is out.
Minnesota’s first-string offense played only two snaps in the exhibition opener. Quarterback Christian Ponder and the starting offensive players are expected to get a more extended look tonight.
The Vikings have three first-round picks – defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson – from this year on their roster. Floyd was picked 23rd, Rhodes 25th and Patterson 29th.
The Bills reached an injury settlement with defensive tackle Aaron Tipoti and released him from the roster. Tipoti injured an ankle the first week of camp.