Life is ‘different’ upon Peterson’s return

Adrian Peterson wrapped up his three weeks of workouts by trying to return to a sense of normalcy.

Adrian Peterson has come back from a torn ACL and been the NFL’s MVP one year later. He was determined to prove that he can take injury recovery to a whole new level and he did it.

This time, with his personal world and reputation taking a hit after pleading no contest to reckless assault following allegations of child abuse, he says his life still isn’t yet normal. It will take longer for these wounds to heal.

He answered matter-of-factly when asked if life was back to normal for him three weeks after his return to practices with the Minnesota Vikings.

“No,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s normal, but of course it’s different. But I’m making it as normal as I can, surrounding myself around people who love me and moving forward.”

Peterson has felt the sting of public criticism and learned that one-time fans aren’t always lifetime fans. Some have remained supportive in his corner; others have turned to critics that may never return.

At this point, all he can do is move on and gather support from those he still trusts.

One thing that hasn’t changed is his coach’s support for him. While some in the Vikings organization supported the decision to place him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, which was followed by a six-game suspension handed down by the NFL office, head coach Mike Zimmer has steadfastly backed Peterson, saying he has a good heart, made a mistake and admitted it.

And Zimmer surely continues to believe in Peterson as a running back, too. His presence back in the Vikings lineup should be a boon to the offense’s potential.

“With one of the greatest running backs in the history of the game, it probably should change a lot,” Zimmer said. “I think people will play us a little bit differently and that will help us in a lot of ways.

“Everything changed. Situations in the game changes things, and the game plan going in that week and things like that. Adrian, he’s the guy. So he’s going to get the ball.”

A lot.

Peterson says he hasn’t talked with the coaching staff about his workload entering the season, but it’s clear he will resume being the workhorse that he was prior to his legal problems. Now, with Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator, he is likely to receive more use in the passing game, too.

It’s been a perennial question about Peterson’s lack of use in the passing game, but this year more than ever – given Turner’s versatile use of running backs – it’s more pertinent than ever.

“That’s funny. I seems I get asked that questions every year, to be more involved in the pass game, but, yeah, I was looking forward to it last year with this offense,” Peterson said. “With this offense, the running back is going to be in position to definitely rack up the receptions. I’m looking forward to doing that. This offense presents that. We’ll see a lot more of that in training camp and when the season starts.

“Whatever they call me to do, I’ll be ready to do it. I’m sure they’ve got some good stuff on tape and I’ll leave it in their hands to decide what to do.”

Interestingly, while Peterson’s public life may never be the same again, it was Zimmer who said he’s the one working to become more positive.

“I just wrote on my phone today (to) try to think of the positives, but I’m not typically that kind of guy,” Zimmer said.

Ironically, Peterson, ever the optimist, can offer an ongoing assist.

“Yeah, I’m going to help him with (being more positive), a lot,” Peterson said.

After three weeks of trying to get back into a football routine in Minnesota, Peterson is returning to Houston. He will relax. He will spend time with family. And he will work out in preparation for training camp.

“I was thinking about going to Europe, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to focus on just working out and just relaxing,” he said.

“A lot of strength work, as well. It’s kind of like CrossFit. I do so much different stuff, whether it’s track workouts, on the field, heal workouts, running three miles, exercise with the full-body workout,” he said.

Eventually, the storylines will all return that were in place before his legal issues. How many yards can he gain? How many more years can he play? Of course, he doesn’t believe in putting limits on himself with those answers.

“I know a couple backs now if they had the mindset to go back out and train and get their bodies right, even after 30, they could have played another year or two as well,” he said. “I think it’s all about how you approach things. Of course, being healthy is something that helps that as well, having that luck to have longevity. But, ultimately, having faith that I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

And, eventually, life should return to normal, or normal for him. Or some semblance of it. But for now?

“There’s nothing like coming out here and playing football,” he said.

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