Sunday slant: Peterson misses opportunity

Adrian Peterson was supposed to be at minicamp, but he chose to attend a function in his honor instead. Physically, his absence from Winter Park won't mean much, but he missed out on a chance to become a better leader. Still, it appears that fans side with his decision.

"All Day" isn't practicing all weekend. In fact, whatever Adrian Peterson did this weekend wasn't in front of the Vikings coaching staff, as it was supposed to be for minicamp.

The Vikings' star running back missed Friday and Saturday's minicamp sessions, and he isn't expected to attend Sunday's final session. Instead, Peterson was attending the fourth annual Adrian Peterson Day in his hometown of Palestine, Texas.

The event was organized by Peterson's aunt, Carol Pegues, and it was put together at the end of the season, maybe before the Vikings had decided on their minicamp dates, but Vikings coach Brad Childress said the Vikings knew their minicamp weekend shortly after the season as well.

It seems Peterson's day in Palestine could have been rescheduled more easily than minicamp, or at Peterson could have asked they wait to set a date until minicamp was set.

Years ago, minicamps weren't quite the event that they are these days, and that's why its important for one of the NFL's best running backs – and the leading fumbler in the NFL among non-quarterbacks – to attend the entire camp and become more of a leader. They are mandatory these days. Peterson is already a leader in talent and production, but to skip out on all four of the minicamp practices would seem to undermine his ability to truly be considered a leader among his teammates after his fumbles contributed to the Vikings' NFC Championship loss.

It's time to put the sting of that loss in the rear-view mirror, but Peterson wasn't around during the first three weeks of organized team activities when the media had access and hasn't been available to answer questions about what he was doing to address the ball-security issues since that January loss. He could have also been working to become a better blocker, something that has improved since his rookie season but could still use work.

In other words, as Chidlress put it, "the work is here," not in Palestine.

"I just know that there are a bunch of guys here. (Minicamp) has a term ‘mandatory' for a reason and the work is here, period," Childress said. "You can say whatever you want. This is the fourth annual Adrian Peterson Day. I don't know if they are going to have it every year. We are going to have this (minicamp) too."

But it appears I'm in minority in thinking that Peterson should have attended minicamp. Peterson is getting support from the diehard fans on Viking Update's subscriber message board. Here is a sampling of their thoughts:

  • "Peterson is a class act and I am glad he is sticking to his commitment to his hometown." – savike

  • "Childress created this problem by making exceptions last year. If it's mandatory then its mandatory for everyone!" – Vikings10

  • "If Childress wants to come right out and say that Favre's getting a free pass because he's a first ballot Hall of Famer who's earned the right to choose whether he wants to take part in the offseason work, fine, but don't stand there and tell me that (Brett) Favre's mulling retirement. We all know that's (false), and don't tell me that Peterson should be there because the word ‘mandatory' is there for a reason. The word means nothing if one guy is exempt from it. If Peterson gets fined I hope he files a grievance." – hauts81

  • "I'm kinda on the fence on this one. On the one hand, I do agree that he should be there leading the team, setting an example for what a franchise player is. As far as camps go, I have to believe that Chilly runs a smooth and intelligent operation seeing how we have had very few freak injuries in his time here, so there's really no excuse not to be present. Then there is part of me saying that Peterson needs to get back to using his instincts when he has the ball instead of filtering through all the coaching he gets. I think AP has been over-coached as a runner and it has adversely affected his game. Obviously there are areas of his game that needed work when he came into the league (receiving, pass blocking, holding onto the football), but as a pure runner he was the best the game had seen in a long time. There were a lot of runs last year where it looked like he was thinking instead of just reacting. That leads me to think that maybe taking a little break from football will be good for him, give him a chance to recharge a bit. We know he'll be there come training camp. Until then, the younger guys are getting more reps. They just don't get the chance to ask the most veteran runner on the team for pointers."

    That's actually a big part of my issue with Peterson skipping. While it's only three years ago that the Vikings drafted him, he is now the most senior running back on the roster. The others include a rookie second-round pick (Toby Gerhart) who is taking a couple of red-eye flights in order to walk in his graduation ceremony from Stanford and miss only the Sunday morning practice; two undrafted running backs (Albert Young and Ian Johnson) over the last two years that have yet to see quality reps during a game; a street free agent (James Johnson) was used sparingly in Cincinnati; and a converted wide receiver (Darius Reynaud) going through his first offseason in the backfield.

    There is no more leadership from Chester Taylor, who was allowed to leave for Chicago via free agency. Peterson is the new veteran of the backfield.

    No doubt his appearance in Palestine is important to him.

    "One of the things I love about Adrian is that even after all of the success he's had he's still just Adrian," Pegues told the local newspaper. "He still loves coming home."

    But Peterson had any weekend the last five months between the Vikings' last game and this weekend to have his day back home. He also has six weekends between minicamp and training camp to show his love to his hometown.

    It's unfortunate he let this be the weekend he is honored.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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