Peterson addresses comments about leadership

Adrian Peterson said he can see where new coach Mike Zimmer is coming from in not anointing Peterson the leader of the team.

The franchise rushing leader, the rushing leader on the team every year he has played, the 2012 NFL rushing leader and the 2012 NFL MVP are all titles Adrian Peterson has earned. Leader of the Minnesota Vikings' players is a title Peterson still has to earn in the eyes of new head coach Mike Zimmer.

Peterson isn't attending the Vikings' offseason program yet as he recovers from groin surgery in January, but he and Zimmer have talked since Zimmer was hired. But Zimmer told an Austin, Texas, radio station, 104.9 The Horn, that he still has to see how players react to Peterson and each other.

"I've talked to Adrian, and Adrian is the most well-known player on the team," Zimmer told The Horn. "That doesn't necessarily mean those guys are the leaders. I think when I find out a little bit more about everyone, you can talk to those guys and visit with them. Obviously, you'd like to have your great players be the leaders, and it could be that Adrian is.

"But it's more about how the guys react with one another and we'll do some things. We'll take the minicamp (this spring) to try to figure out who really is the leader of the group here. I don't think this is, as soon as you meet him, you say he's the leader of the team. It's kind of a process."

Peterson didn't sound offended by Zimmer's comments when addressing them Thursday on a conference call with reporters.

"A new coach around a new organization for the first time, yeah, I can understand where he's coming from when he says that," Peterson said. "He doesn't know me that well. I met him. I'm sure not only me, but everyone has to prove they're a leader of the team. That's something that I really take pride in as well."

The first two weeks of the Vikings' offseason program is mostly about strength and conditioning. After that, coaches can get more into the schemes and techniques on the field with the players. It's all voluntary until the mandatory minicamp in June, but Zimmer has been looking forward to a veteran minicamp he is able to hold before the draft to get a better gauge of the talent on the roster.

Peterson said he is "not far off" from being ready to rejoin his teammates in Minnesota. For now, however, he is concentrating on recovering from his surgery.

"That's all a part of me taking care of my business when I'm away from the facility. It's a normal routine for me – when I'm not in Minnesota, I'm taking care of my body," he said. "I'm working out extremely hard to continue to be productive for my team. Coming off the groin surgery, I was slowed down a little bit, but I've been able to recover a lot faster. But I understand and respect what he has to say."


Here is Peterson on a couple more topics:

  • On the changes made to the Pro Bowl, especially having former players draft the Pro Bowl teams instead of splitting them by conference: "The changes they made this year, I think that is going to boost it up a little more because now guys get the opportunity to play with guys that they probably never would get to play with," Peterson said. "Beforehand, it was NFC-AFC so you know that the best of the NFC and the best of the AFC would be able to play one another, but now you might be playing against your own teammate. You're playing against the NFC and AFC – I thought that was brilliant. I think that's something that will keep the athletes interested in it."

  • On the perception that the value of running backs has decreased, especially with few lucrative deals in free agency: "It's all about what have you done for me lately," Peterson said. "Unfortunately, the guys that were out in free agency this year didn't really have incredible numbers, incredible seasons, to be able to get the type of numbers they want in free agency. I feel like me and some of the other guys are going to keep it alive as far as the running backs being able to come out and keep the running back position top of the level. That's going to come with guys putting in the hard work and getting to produce."

    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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