EDEN PRAIRIE —
"No surgery or anything," Ponder said. "Just giving it some time, and it will get there."
The Vikings, like most teams, expressed impatience with their development, even though this season by all accounts went ahead of the rebuilding schedule. They weren't willing to merely accept more steady progress, realizing the way the open-then-shut windows of championship opportunity usually work in the NFL.
Peterson is an obvious plus, as are blossoming young standouts such as left tackle Matt Kalil, tight end Kyle Rudolph, strong safety Harrison Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen and kicker Blair Walsh. But perhaps the biggest advantage these Vikings have in their quest to win a Super Bowl is strong chemistry, as evidenced all year.
"We started out fairly well, had some success, then went through a little rough patch where we lost some games," left guard Charlie Johnson said. "When that happens, the spirit can drop. But you never had that. You never had that sense in this locker room where guys seemed deflated."
Defensive end Jared Allen said he'll wait until after the Pro Bowl to have surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn labrum he's had for months.
"I've played with it all year. I'm going to at least enjoy the benefits of it right?" Allen said, joking he aims to follow Peterson's rehab success: "Maybe I can get 2,000 sacks."
Walsh said he'll take long snapper Cullen Loeffler to Hawaii with him to the Pro Bowl as a reward, unless Loeffler is a late addition to the NFC squad.
"As was our team being doubted before the season, so was he and the selection that they made," Loeffler said. "He's done a tremendous job staying focused."
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who has two years left on his contract at more than $7 million per season, acknowledged the possibility he'll be asked to restructure his deal but said he'd like to add to his 10-year tenure with the team.
"I 'm not going to worry about it," Williams said. "We'll work something out if that comes up."