Peterson believes many productive years ahead

Adrian Peterson eclipsed the 2,000-carry mark for his career and missed more practice time than ever during the 2013 season. Despite all the injuries he endured and missing two games, he said the body is good and his future is bright for more than five years.

Adrian Peterson suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 24, 2011, but returned for the 2012 season and came within eight yards of tying the all-time rushing record with 2,097 yards.

His 2013 season may have been his most challenging, however, from an injury standpoint. Once the injuries started with a hamstring strain against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 13, they never seemed to stop.

But after suffering hamstring, groin and foot injuries in 2013 that limited his availability and sidelined him for two of the final three games, Peterson was typically optimistic following the regular-season finale.

"The body feels great, just the groin, the foot injury that took place, just slowed me down. But outside of that, the body feels good," he said. "The normal wear and tear, but nothing more so than my first year.

"My body is young. I've got a different body. My body recovers quickly. We'll see. I have a lot of time to rest now. I'll just try to enjoy it."

He may need the time to heal, even if he did plan to start working out about a week after the Minnesota Vikings' season ended.

In all, Peterson missed 17 of the 33 final practices in 2013 once the injuries started in October. He was limited in seven additional practices.

The injury-related issues started with a strained hamstring heading into the New York Giants game on Oct. 21. He was listed as probable on the injury report until a groin injury also entered the equation in November.

He was questionable against the Packers on Nov. 24 with the groin strain, and questionable again two weeks later against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 8, but he played and then suffered a sprained foot when he was tackled on the snow-covered field in Baltimore.

He played in only one of the final three games of the season, finishing with 279 carries for 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season.

Peterson was the only Vikings player originally selected to the Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 – Cordarrelle Patterson made it as a replacement – so he will have a decision to make on his availability for that game.

"I look forward to it, but I'm going to do what's best for my body," Peterson said. "If I'm not feeling like I'm healthy enough where I want to be to go, then I'm not playing. If (I can play), then I'll be out there."

If he is able to play, Peterson will play hard. He said he would be going after the win and the increased bonus check awarded to the winning team of the Pro Bowl.

The big-picture question, of course, is how many highly productive years Peterson has left in the NFL. He has played seven seasons and carried the ball 2,033 times.

Told that former Vikings running back Robert Smith believes Peterson has five good seasons remaining, Peterson disagreed, saying he believes he has more than five quality seasons remaining.

"God's willing. Barring any injuries, staying healthy – there's a lot of things that have to go your way to play a long time in the league," Peterson said. "Barring any of that, I feel like I'll be around for a long time and still at the top of my game.

"Until I leave this game, I plan on being the best. That's the way I look at it."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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