Adrian Peterson is considered by most to be one of the best – if not the best – running back in the NFL and it was clear that his absence from the Minnesota Vikings last season had a big effect on them. Their rushing attack finished 14th in the NFL, and they only had a rusher break 100 yards two times all season, with the final time being Week 7 when Jerick McKinnon ran for 103 yards against the Buffalo Bills.
Throughout the season, Vikings players said that they would welcome Peterson back with open arms whenever he is able to return, and that feeling has carried over into the offseason. As questions continue to swirl around about whether or not Peterson will return to the Vikings after being suspended by the NFL following allegations of child abuse in Texas, the one thing that still remains true is that his teammates want him back.
“I don’t know if he’ll be back. I can’t answer that question,” receiver Greg Jennings told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday. “But what I do know is that if he does come back he’d be accepted with open arms. As an organization from the Wilfs on down, we all want him back. So, I mean, it’s a touchy subject and he’s been the franchise player – face of that team – for eight years. So it will be a loss, a huge loss if we can’t get him back, and that’s the nature of this business.”
This offseason, the Vikings front office will need to make a lot of decisions about what they want to do with Peterson. But their hands are tied while the NFL imposes its suspension on him, and they cannot make any moves until that suspension is up in April – though it could be shortened as Peterson has a suspension hearing in a federal court Feb. 6.
“Under the circumstances, the way everything happened, we tried to do everything from our ownership on down, tried to do the right thing and what we felt was right and tried to also follow what the rules are that we have to deal with, with the NFL as well,” general manager Rick Spielman said earlier this month.
Not only is the uncertainty of the situation hard on the front office, but it is hard on the players as well. They all have opinions about the situation that is happening, but they are asked to be politically correct while they talk about it and don’t always express how they really feel about the circumstances surrounding Peterson.
“This is the unfortunate part about it – we always have to be politically correct,” Jennings said. “And fans, everybody says that they want to hear the right answer, and when you give them that (blunt) – just hardcore answer – now everybody just looks at you like ‘how could you say something like that?’ but just like an everyday fan has an opinion, and we do too, it’s just we have to curve our opinion to fit the answer everybody wants to hear.”
Even though the Vikings had to go with the next man up scenario last season, there really is no replacing a player like Peterson, and Jennings hopes Peterson will be back next season.
“Losing Adrian was definitely kind of a wrinkle. You know, we had to go with the next man up and I know every team has to deal with it,” Jennings said.
“You don’t just say, hey, Adrian walk off the field and then you bring the next guy up and he’s just going to fill those shoes.”
Jennings: A.D. welcome with ‘open arms’
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