Adrian Peterson has been at Winter Park for the last two weeks as part of OTAs, sending the clear message that, starting now, San Francisco’s defensive coaching staff has to start worrying.
On Saturday, he was back in his hometown of Palestine, Texas for the Ninth Annual Adrian Peterson Day. He was getting the love – complete with a banner proclaiming, “Welcome Home! We Got Your Back!”
Peterson told ESPN that, given the troubles he’s had since the Eighth Annual Adrian Peterson Day, it was refreshing to see people supporting him.
Among the topics discussed was the assessment of Norv Turner concerning the level of preparedness Peterson had when he showed up at OTAs. Turner said he looked as if he hadn’t missed a day. Peterson said Saturday that it affirmed his willingness to keep himself in shape and game-ready.
“It feels good,” Peterson told ESPN. “It kind of combats what you normally hear from other media sources and people in general: ‘He’s been out a year, how’s he gonna look? This, that, the other.’ One of the best offensive minds who ever coached says he never missed a day, it felt good, to be honest. I worked extremely hard. I had a lot of time to keep my body in shape and it showed.”
Also gleaned from the conversation was an explanation from Peterson’s wife Ashley, who is pregnant with her second child. She apparently has bought into the reality of the NFL landscape and her previous statements about wanting to leave Minnesota had more to do with family than business.
“I am happy that he’ll be going back,” she said. “They have supported us. I just would personally, for me, I would’ve preferred to be closer to home. That’s just a personal preference for me. The Vikings have been supportive of him and the fans have been pretty supportive, so we’re happy to be going back.”
When topics turned back to football, Peterson acknowledged that his hope is to help the progression of Teddy Bridgewater. Having a Hall of Fame option having Bridgewater’s back, Peterson can help open up things for the young quarterback and make the Vikings a lethal offensive threat.
“Hopefully my presence will be able to lose a guy or two by bringing guys in that focus on stopping the run,” Peterson said. “With Coach Turner’s offense, there’s so much that he throws out there, so I’ll be more involved in the pass game, being out wide, presenting myself for Teddy to check down. But I think the biggest thing will be just the run threat and making the defense play more balanced.”
That will have to wait until September, because, by all accounts, A.P. worked as hard Saturday as he will during the preseason games. All five of them. But, for one day, he was able to get some support for the name Adrian Peterson that will forever be associated with a kid from Palestine, Texas.
“(There are) so many people here before the fame that supported me,” Peterson said. “I remember being at Palestine High School, seeing both sides – home and visitor sides – packed. The people in Palestine (have been) supporting me throughout my career. It says a lot. The people here, they understand where I come from. They get it. They know me as a person. They know my personality. They know what kind of heart I have because they’ve been around me my entire life. These are people that actually know me. It feels good to be supported.”
The only unknown is how the fans from his adopted hometown will react. You get the feeling it will be similar, but only time will tell.