Preseason carries for Peterson? ‘Doubt it’
Judging by fans waiting for autographs as the Minnesota Vikings checked into training camp, Adrian Peterson is quickly being accepted back by many of the Vikings’ loyalists.
Peterson, too, was as happy as a veteran can be to get some normalcy in a football star’s life. He has undergone the scrutiny of many, dealt with the legal system and an NFL suspension, and this week finalized a restructured contract that puts some guaranteed money in his coffers.
The Vikings’ star running back was already in attendance for the majority of the organized team activities and the mandatory minicamp, so re-acclimating to the offense is already in the books.
Now what remains is his role for training camp and the preseason.
“He’s going to get the large majority of the reps,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s like everybody else as far as that’s concerned.”
But while a strong workload for Peterson is welcomed and embraced by Peterson during training camp, Zimmer will treat Peterson differently than others during the preseason. Zimmer doesn’t expect any carries for Peterson in the preseason.
“I doubt it,” Zimmer said.
That would follow the Peterson pacing of past preseasons. He hasn’t had a preseason carry since 2011, when he rushed 21 times for an even 100 yards.
After playing in only the regular-season opener last year before dealing with charges of child abuse in Texas – he eventually pleaded no contest to reckless assault – Peterson said he is fresh and ready to go.
“My body feels great. Mentally I’m stronger than I’ve been ever before,” he said. “I’ve just got a different mindset when it comes to just life in general and football too. With that, I know it’s going to make me a better player.”
Fans waiting outside Sears Hall were in full throat when it came to Peterson’s arrival, starting with shouts of “A.P.” that eventually turned into chants of “MVP.”
“It felt good. It’s a good feeling just the support that I’ve been receiving through the entire process. It was a good feeling,” Peterson said.
“… I’m focusing on looking forward, but it’s comforting. It’s definitely a good feeling to know that the people do have your back. But I’m sure it will take a while for this to get erased out of my memory.”
Peterson arrived just as the second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was finishing his initial press conference of training camp, and Bridgewater joined in the “A.P.” chants as he left the microphones. There is little question Peterson has already been embraced by his teammates, even his new ones.
Mike Wallace attended a workout in Houston with Peterson and quickly learned that Peterson’s work ethic might be legendary but it’s not fictional. Wallace said it was a grueling four-hour workout and the two raced up a hill together numerous times. Wallace, known for his speed, won some of those races but admitted that it was about a 50-50 split, with Peterson winning more of those races at the end because of his build and stamina.
Fans standing outside Sears Hall were ready for Peterson, too. From a sign that read, “Welcome home AP. Real Vikings fans still love you!” to poster-sized pictures waiting to be signed along with Vikings
and Oklahoma Sooners jerseys, fans were going wild while waiting to see Peterson return to training camp.
The star said the team hasn’t informed him of his workload, saying he’ll leave that to the professionals, but of course “it will include me,” he said.
Yes, it will in training camp. During preseason games, not so much.
But with a new contract in hand and the support of his teammates, coaches and fans, Peterson is ready to get things rolling 10 months after his professional and private life were turned upside down.
“I’m definitely happy. If that wasn’t the case, I’d would have just been like, you know what, I’ll just play this year out and not redo the contract,” he said. “I’m happy to be a Viking.”
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