Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus. On Thursday, the Vikings announced that Peterson had successful lateral surgery and no other issues with his knee were found.
One day later, the running back was placed on injured reserve, meaning he will be unavailable to return until at least the end of November so long as the Vikings choose to use the injured reserve with a designation to return tag on him.
According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Peterson suffered what's known as a bucket handle tear of the meniscus, and the expected recovery time following surgery is a minimum of three to four months, and could take as long as six months for a full recovery.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer he said Wednesday he won't have a timetable for Peterson's recovery until the procedure is complete.
Minnesota also signed running back Ronnie Hillman Wednesday. Zimmer was unsure when Hillman would be able to get on the field for the Vikings, and he added that Jerick McKinnon will get the start against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Zimmer said the Vikings will continue to run the ball without Peterson.
"That's our identity, that's how we're built and we're going to continue to stay that way," Zimmer said. "Hopefully we can continue to play good defense and hopefully we can continue to run the ball, and we'll take our shots when we can."
The Vikings also placed left tackle Matt Kalil on injured reserve with a hip injury. With Teddy Bridgewater, Peterson and Kalil all out of commission, Zimmer said his message to the team remains the same.
"I told them what was going on, and I expect them to perform the way I always expect them to perform," Zimmer said. "There's no overriding message."
Peterson underwent an MRI on Monday to evaluate the extent of a knee injury he suffered on Sunday Night Football in the Vikings' 17-14 win over the Green Bay Packers, and the tests revealed the torn meniscus. Peterson's wife said Monday that he was already walking after the injury, and Zimmer initially said it was possible Peterson would play Sunday against the Panthers.
When Peterson was removed from the game against the Packers, he was unable to put any weight on his right leg. He was helped from the field and examined on the sideline, and then he made his way to the locker room for further evaluation with assistance. After the game, Peterson left the locker room in a brace and on crutches.
Peterson suffered tears of his ACL and MCL in Week 16 of the 2011 season, and returned to the field for Week 1 in 2012. It was an unusually swift recovery, and Peterson finished the 2012 season with 2,097 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, which earned him MVP honors.
This injury and the time Peterson will miss during his recovery may affect his future with the Vikings. Zimmer acknowledged that Peterson's injury could be season-ending, depending on how the surgery goes, which means there's a chance the 31-year-old won't be seen in a Vikings uniform again.
Peterson is owed a $6 million roster bonus on March 9, according to The MMQB's Albert Breer, and if he remains on the roster, he is set to earn a total of $18 million from the Vikings next season. The Vikings can cut Peterson prior to March 9 with no penalty.
The Vikings’ opponents have been selling out to stop the run this season, limiting Peterson’s production. He gained just 31 yards on 19 carries against the Titans in Week 1, and 19 yards on 12 carries in the win over the Packers.
The Vikings will look to Matt Asiata, McKinnon, and Hillman to fill the void created by Peterson’s injury. Asiata has just 27 yards on 10 carries this season, and McKinnon has carried the ball three times for 8 yards. Last season, Asiata finished with 112 yards on 29 carries, and McKinnon had 271 yards on 52 carries. Hillman, who played for the Denver Broncos last year, rushed for 863 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015.
Minnesota's defense has been a factor in both of the team's wins so far this season. Zimmer is confident that the team can still succeed, even as the injuries to key offensive players continue to pile up.
"This team to me is a team -- I've said before -- they're resilient, they're tough, they're competitive," Zimmer said.
The Vikings face the Panthers this week in Carolina.