PRO FOOTBALL

Peterson ready to take Bears' best punch

2012-11-24T17:45:00Z 2012-11-27T13:37:07Z Peterson ready to take Bears' best punchAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
November 24, 2012 5:45 pm  • 

Derrick Rose continues a lengthy rehab after tearing his ACL in the NBA playoffs last season.

Adrian Peterson suffered the same injury late in 2011, had his left knee completely rebuilt, and enters today's game against the Bears as the league's top rusher with 1,128 yards -- more yards than 21 NFL teams.

"I definitely felt I could get back quick and be as aggressive, maybe even more aggressive as the season continued to roll," he said.

Peterson is averaging 5.8 yards for 195 carries and has scored seven touchdowns.

Last week, Peterson planned to contact Rose and exchange notes on their respective recoveries while offering encouragement to the fallen Bulls' star.

"The one thing I can give him is to have your mind set on what you want to accomplish and go after it," Peterson said. "Stay strong and don't back off from anything.

"After four months, my leg was still a little sore, too, but the ligament was almost stronger than the right side. I'm at 100 percent but, with that being said, there's another level I'm trying to reach."

Some say Adrian Peterson already is there.

The sixth-year pro has rushed for over 100 yards in four consecutive games this season and often is at his best against the Bears with 823 yards and 12 TDs in 12 meetings.

"I was challenged this season," Peterson said of his impressive start. "The (surgery) made me look at a lot of other things differently. It made me scratch harder, dig even deeper, when I was working out to get back.

"In that regard, the injury was like a blessing in disguise."

Both teams face a sense of urgency today. The Bears (7-3) have lost two straight and have Minnesota (6-4) on their doorstep in the NFC North standings.

As a rookie in 2007, Peterson set the Bears' single-game rushing record by an opponent with 224 yards at Soldier Field.

"We'll have our hands full once again against another great player," coach Lovie Smith said.

The Bears have won five straight against Minnesota but Peterson says the past is the past and both teams have new faces in their offensive lines.

Chicago's defense leads the NFL in takeaways with 30 and has returned seven interceptions for touchdowns. Peterson relishes an opportunity to test it.

"It's a sound defense but I feel we can run the ball on them," he said. "If those guys want to punch the ball, we have to make 'em pay for it.

"I hope they punch for it because my goal is to hold it high and tight and while they're punching it, I'll be escaping and going to the end zone."

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