The Vikings have always maintained that Adrian Peterson has a bundle of talent … which can lead to a full offseason schedule.
Learning to say no to at least some of the many requests that come his way is one thing he getting better at, according to Vikings coach Brad Childress.
"I think having had one offseason that he went through last year, understanding what an NFL season comprises and then what an NFL offseason comprises and then this year playing in 16 games – going through 16 games, 17 games with the playoff game – just exactly what he has to do. Spend a little more time at it. I think that people pulled him a lot of different directions, by his own admission last year," Childress said Friday at the Combine. "He's already made changes in that regimen, just coming away from the Pro Bowl. He'll spend some more time on the football aspects of it with (running backs coach) Eric Bieniemy, and I don't have any doubt that what he sets his mind to he can get done."
Later, in a roundtable interview with Twin Cities reporters, Childress said Peterson needs to take care of his preparations on the field in order to continue to be in demand for appearances off the field.
"When you talk about Michael Jordan, why does Michael Jordan make $300 million? He gets paid $25 million, I'm thinking about one year, and he makes 150 million on this side," Childress said. "You've got to do what you're doing to make what you're making. But you've got to take care of that."
Childress indicated that dealing with demands off the field has been part of Peterson's maturation in the NFL.
"He literally could do an event and criss-cross the United States and probably the globe every day and get paid astronomical amounts of money. But there's a price to pay for that in terms of wear and tear on your body and working out and that type of thing," Childress said. "I think he knows now having played 16 games that he needs to rest. He needs to take care of the faculties that got him here and I think he's doing a decent job of that. And rest doesn't mean laying on the couch and eating chocolate."
Ironically, Peterson said at the Pro Bowl that he wanted to put on weight this offseason, and that seems to be fine with the Vikings as long as he maintains his explosiveness.
"If it's good weight, I don't think it will hurt Adrian. Eric Bieniemy told me he looked skinny at the Pro Bowl. Now, we don't trot him up to a scale. I don't know what skinny was. I don't know if that means 214 as opposed to 217. I suspect it was probably (that he) looked lean," Childress said.
On Thursday, Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said Peterson is just trying to become a better player.
"I think that's Adrian trying to be the best football player that he can be. There is a lot of untapped potential, and how much better he gets is still untapped. I know the coaches, Tom Kanavy, our strength coach, they will all monitor that to see if that's the thing or not," Spielman said. "But Adrian works extremely hard at his craft to be the best that he can be. That's something that will be discussed internally, but I know you don't have to ever worry about Adrian being ready to go and being in the best shape possible."
The Vikings don't want any more wear and tear on Peterson's body than the season already provides, so they were grateful that he wasn't used as much in this year's Pro Bowl (eight rushes for 48 yards) as last year's (16 rushes for 129 yards).
In the week leading up to the game, Peterson had told NFC coach Andy Reid that he could give him the ball on every play. Childress was glad his old boss in Philadelphia didn't comply with Peterson's "All Day" request, as his nickname would indicate.
"I was very grateful to Andy – I texted him when he was over there – that he did not run him the 400 times that he said that he was going to," Childress said.
But it is Peterson's off-the-field rigors that Childress was talking about as well on Friday. He said he didn't believe Peterson's popularity in making guest appearances or as a corporate spokesman affected his ability on the field.
"I don't think so. I think it manifested itself more in the mental grind. You always want to make sure you get back to training camp and you're legitimately excited. You don't feel like, ‘Where did the offseason go?'" Childress said.
"… Somewhere you've got to recharge or all of a sudden you're standing there in A) OTAs, B) training camp, and you're going, ‘Weren't we just doing that?'"
The Vikings are hoping Peterson gives himself enough of an offseason so he isn't thinking that when the business of football resumes.
A.D. learning to handle off-the-field strains
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