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NFL roundup: Peterson hopes to return for 2012

Associated Press
The NFL notebook…
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. ó The athletic abilities of star running back Adrian Peterson led the Minnesota Vikings to give him a seven-year, $100 million contract extension before the season started.
Now, they hope his recuperative abilities are just as good and he is able to live up to being the highest-paid running back in the NFL.
Minnesota expects Peterson to be recovered from left knee surgery for two torn ligaments in time to start the 2012 season.
ěWe expect most people to recover from this injury in eight to nine months and instead of comparing Adrian to any other player at any level thatís had an anterior cruciate ligament, and they happen every day, I would really like Adrian to stand on his own merit because Adrian, I feel, is very unique,î Vikings head trainer Eric Sugarman said Monday.
ěAdrian has a great work ethic. Adrian has the DNA to heal quickly, which he has shown in the past. He certainly will have the desire and the mental toughness to be able to get through the rehab process, which will take months and months, as you know. So, I think if anyone can get better quickly and safely in that time period, it would be Adrian Peterson.î
Peterson tore his ACL and MCL when he was hit in the side of the knee by Washington Redskins safety DeJon Gomes in the third quarter of Saturdayís 33-26 win at Washington. An MRI on Saturday evening revealed the ligament tears and meniscus damage, and Peterson will undergo surgery within the next seven to 10 days.
PATS CAN GET HOMEFIELD
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ó The New England Patriots have one major goal remaining in the regular season: clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. All they need to do is beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
That doesnít seem so difficult for a team that has won its last seven games and will be at home against one that dropped seven straight before winning Saturday.
The Patriots (12-3) must keep avoiding turnovers and get decent play out of a makeshift offensive line should two starters remain sidelined. But the Bills (6-9) won 34-31 in the third game of the season, handing the Patriots one of their three losses. The Patriots gave the ball away four times in that game, all on Tom Bradyís interceptions leading to 24 points.
ěI think everyone still has a pretty bitter taste in our mouths from the last time we lost to the Buffalo Bills,î Brady said Monday on WEEI radio. ěIt was an incredibly difficult loss for our team. Everyone is going to be excited to go out there and see if we can do a better job.î
ROMO UPDATE
IRVING, Texas ó All the negative tests on quarterback Tony Romoís bruised throwing hand are positives for the Dallas Cowboys.
Coach Jason Garrett said Monday that the swelling is going down and that a number of different tests have confirmed the original diagnosis of nothing being broken in Romoís right hand. The Cowboys are hopeful that he can practice Wednesday.
ěIt looks like it is getting better. All the X-rays and tests that have come back are negative,î Garrett said. ěWe hope in the next couple of days with treatment heíll be able to take a snap and hold a football and throw it the way he needs to.î
When asked if Romo could grip a football, the coach responded, ěHe has a relatively firm handshake.î
All indications are that Romo will be ready for Sunday nightís game at the New York Giants that will determine who wins the NFC East and goes to the playoffs.
RYAN SHUTS UP
NEW YORK ó Rex Ryan was humbled, his boasts little more than hot air.
Forget kings of the city. The New York Jets are now a desperate team on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since Ryan took over as coach.
ěWeíve won eight games,î Ryan said Monday. ěObviously, we were hoping to win more than that.î
That was certainly the plan. Ryan guaranteed it months ago, when he declared this Jets team the most talented bunch he has coached in New York. Even better than the teams that went to the AFC championship game in each of his first two years.
The Jets (8-7) have proven themselves to be anything but. Still, at this time last week, the Jets controlled their playoff destiny ó a win, and they wouldíve likely made the postseason. Ryan claimed his Jets were the best team in New York, superior to the Giants based on their two previous playoff runs.
Not this year. They need to win at Miami on Sunday and get lots of help to keep their season alive.
ěAnything can happen in the NFL,î left guard Matt Slauson said. ěThe Packers were kind of in a similar situation last year and sneaked in through the back door and wrecked shop. The NFL is a crazy world and anyone can win any day.î
Or lose, in humiliating fashion, as the Jets did on Saturday. In fact, Ryanís big words might have served as motivation in the Giantsí 29-14 victory, but the coach has no regrets.
ěIíll stand by everything I said,î Ryan said on a conference call. ěDid it work out? No, and Iíll be the first one to say it never worked out. Iím responsible for that. Obviously, the Giants were the better team that day, without question. So, I deserve the criticism that I take for it. I definitely deserve it.î
The thing with Ryan ó love him or hate him ó is that this is who he has consistently been since he got to New York three years ago. He was a breath of fresh air after Eric Manginiís tightlipped regime, a guy referred to often as a playerís coach.
But despite being a win away from the Super Bowl two years in a row, some fans and media believe itís time for Ryan to pipe down. Well, donít count on that anytime soon.
ěIíve always said from Day 1 that Iím going to be true to myself,î he said. ěWhen I leave this job 10 or 15 years from now, Iím going to be true to myself.î
Nose tackle Sione Pouha said Ryanís talk to the team Monday was ěpositive; it was hopeful. He was very optimistic.î
At the same time, Ryan wasnít ignoring the problems his team had in the loss to the Giants, and the rest of this season. He pointed out the lack of more big plays down the field being ěan area of concernî on offense, and putting teams away defensively also a major culprit. He also said he supports both quarterback Mark Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer despite some sentiment that changes need to be made with at least one of them in the offseason.
ěI have a huge amount of confidence in both guys, thereís no doubt,î Ryan said.
Some fans and media say Schottenheimer needs to go because the offense isnít good enough. Some have also said Sanchez is not playing the way the face of a franchise should ó and might not be that guy in the end.
ěI donít agree with those things,î tight end Dustin Keller said. ěIíve always been very happy with both of them. I think Schottyís done a great job. Obviously, anytime things go wrong, itís going to fall on the shoulders of the quarterback and offensive coordinator.î
Schottenheimer has been a primary target of criticism all season ó and previous ones ó for a sometimes unimaginative game plan that has played against his quarterbackís strengths at times. The fact Sanchez threw 59 passes against the Giants on Saturday went completely against Ryanís preferred ěGround-and-Poundî approach, despite the fact that the running game with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson appeared to be working early.
ěAs far as Brian Schottenheimer is concerned, shoot, weíll just keep working side by side, shoulder to shoulder, and weíre trying to find a way to beat Miami,î Ryan said.
Ryan pointed out the Jetsí marked improvement in red-zone efficiency, a category they entered Saturdayís game as the league leader. But overall, New York is ranked 27th in offense and that falls on Schottenheimer.
ěI guess if you are evaluating Brian, the season is, No. 1, not over,î Ryan said. ěI donít know if anybody works as hard as Brian Schottenheimer, and really everybody on that staff, our offensive staff.î
Sanchez had a miserable fourth quarter against the Giants with three turnovers and was unable to get the offense in position to get the Jets back in it. It didnít help that he was being pressured and pounded constantly.
ěIíve stated it over and over, my feelings about Mark Sanchez,î Ryan said. ěIt wasnít Markís best day by any stretch of the imagination. But we know heís done it, and heís been doing it, and we have great confidence in him, and I have great confidence in him.î
Added Slauson: ěWe arenít shaken by anything. If you look at what Mark has done since he has been here, he is an amazing quarterback. And even though we lost a really tough game, heís heading in the right direction.î
Ryan was asked specifically on 1050 ESPN Radio about an internet report that said the Jets are privately uncertain about Sanchezís future, and the coach did not waver ó even when it was suggested that the team could look into Peyton Manning in the offseason.
ěThereís no way we are looking to replace Mark Sanchez,î he said.
To a man, the Jets acknowledge that a path to the playoffs wonít be easy, and it starts with the Dolphins (5-10), who have played much better football lately. Even if they win, they also need Cincinnati, Tennessee and either Denver or Oakland to lose to get to the playoffs.
ěHave we had the results we were hoping for? No, but again, the season is not over,î Ryan said. ěMaybe weíll look at everything, obviously, at the end of the season, but right now we are competing for it. Weíve got a chance and we need to find a way to get it done this week.î
The Associated Press
12/26/11 18:21

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