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Vikings expect Peterson back for start of 2012

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — 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.

"We 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 that's 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," Vikings head trainer Eric Sugarman said Monday.

"Adrian 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."

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 Saturday's 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.

All the negative tests on quarterback Tony Romo's 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 Romo's right hand. The Cowboys are hopeful that he can practice Wednesday.

"It looks like it is getting better. All the X-rays and tests that have come back are negative," Garrett said. "We hope in the next couple of days with treatment he'll be able to take a snap and hold a football and throw it the way he needs to."

When asked if Romo could grip a football, the coach responded, "He has a relatively firm handshake."

All indications are that Romo will be ready for Sunday night's game at the New York Giants that will determine who wins the NFC East and goes to the playoffs.

The Cowboys (8-7) will be without starting left guard Montrae Holland, who was put on season-ending injured reserve Monday with a partially torn left biceps sustained in the 20-7 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. Veteran guard Derrick Dockery will likely start in Holland's spot.

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan took to the airwaves Monday to defend Mark Sanchez, denying a report the team was questioning whether he was the answer as the Jets' quarterback in the future.

"There's no way we're looking to replace Mark Sanchez," Ryan said on 1050 ESPN radio in relation to the NBC Sports report. "It's just not true. I've said repeatedly this is my guy."

Ryan even responded to the suggestions by fans and media members that the team should pursue Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in the offseason if he is on the trading block.

"Do I think it's even a consideration for us? No I don't," he said.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had also come under fire following the Jets' 29-14 loss to New York rivals the Giants on Saturday, but Ryan gave him a vote of confidence as well.

"As far as Brian Schottenheimer is concerned, shoot, we'll just keep working side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder and we're trying to find a way to beat Miami `on Sunday~. I have confidence in him. I have confidence in all our coaches. We have to find a way to get it done."

Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz isn't fretting over circumstances beyond his control.

He said Monday he doesn't worry if the Green Bay team the Lions will face on Sunday at Lambeau Field will rest key players, such as quarterback Aaron Rodgers, now that the Packers have clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Schwartz also said he isn't concerned about possible playoff scenarios for his Lions, who secured their first postseason berth since the 1999 season with a 38-10 victory over San Diego on Saturday.

The Lions are in the running for the No. 5 seed in the NFC, which would mean playing at the winner of Sunday's game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

"Particularly being a wild card like we are, to get through the NFC, you're going to have to win three games," Schwartz said. "All three of those are going to be good teams. The only thing we can do is worry about ourselves and preparing the very best we can this week and not worrying about scenarios or all those other things. They'll have a team for us to play. We'll be ready for them."