Adrian Peterson optimistic despite tough season

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson’s groin injury
has robbed the MVP running back of some of his trademark explosiveness but
hasn’t stripped his unrelenting optimism.

Peterson, even with the Minnesota Vikings at 2-8, is not
giving up on this season and gives no thought to sitting out Sunday’s game at
Green Bay to fully rest his injured groin. Peterson said Thursday he plans to play Sunday and said he’s doing what’s necessary to get ready to play.

Asked what he would say if head coach Leslie Frazier or head
athletic trainer Eric Sugarman tried to tell him he couldn’t play, Peterson
responded:  “I’d look at them crazy. I’d be like, ‘Well, I know my
body and I’m not going to do anything to hurt myself. Just trust me.'”

Peterson missed practice for Minnesota again Thursday,
instead taking the time to rehabilitate the groin injury that has sidelined him
from the team’s last four practices and limited him in Sunday’s loss at
Seattle.

“Living with Eric Sugarman for the entire day, just
doing the recommended things that I need to do,” Peterson said of working
through rehab. “Doing strength and exercises and getting in the cold tub,
working out. Most important, just kind of letting the body rest.”

Frazier said Peterson wouldn’t have to return to practice
Friday to play Sunday’s game, but “we’d like to see him do something
tomorrow. That’s his goal. He’s working towards that, so we’ll see.”

To Peterson, there’s no second thought to playing Sunday,
even though the playoffs look like a mirage at this point with the Vikings tied
with Atlanta and Tampa Bay at the bottom of the NFC standings at 2-8. Peterson
holds out hope because Minnesota hasn’t been mathematically eliminated.

The optimism and focus that helped him overcome a major knee
reconstruction to win the MVP a year later fuels his confidence to push through the
Vikings’ dismal situation and win the season’s final six games to finish 8-8,
which might offer a faint chance at the playoffs.

Peterson has his own inner motivation, but he’s believes in
the ability to turn the season around by looking around the locker room.

“I feel like I believe in every guy in here, and I
believe in Christian (Ponder),” Peterson said. “I believe that he can
turn it on and get into a run. I have faith in the guys in this locker room.
When I look in these guys’ eyes, when I’m on the field with them, they’re
playing their hearts out. They’re out there competing. I don’t see guys
quitting.

“I probably wouldn’t have that sense if I looked around
the locker room or when we played and seen guys not out there competing or guys
giving up. That’s not what I see. So, with that, you still have a chance. I
choose to focus on that opportunity and that chance that we have and believing
in these guys in this locker room and really don’t care what everyone else on
the outside thinks about it. That’s just how I look at it.”

Frazier credited Peterson’s approach and hopes it can
transfer to the rest of the team with Minnesota four games out of a playoff
spot.

“You’d like for more guys to feel that way and just
fight as hard as we can to get a win this week and try to build on that,”
Frazier said. “But if you don’t have any hope, it can be difficult,
especially if things aren’t going right early. I hope some of that rubs off on
the rest of the team.”

Peterson said he isn’t frustrated by the running game or the
groin injury that kept him from breaking longer runs Sunday. Peterson
finished with 21 carries for 65 yards on Sunday. The last time Peterson was
held to 65 yards or less on 20 or more carries was Oct. 5, 2009, when he had 25
carries for 55 yards against Green Bay.

Peterson has been held under 100 yards rushing seven times
in 10 games this season. He was held under 100 yards just six times all of last
season, and five of the occasions came in the first six weeks of the season as
he was returning from his knee surgery.

“Not frustrating really because it’s not really
hindering me that much,” Peterson said of the groin injury.

But he did say he missed longer runs Sunday because of
the injury. One run in particular was the second play of the game when Peterson
took a handoff and went off left tackle before breaking back across field. He
was tackled by Seattle safety Earl Thomas for a 7-yard gain.

“I’m out of there on that play,” Peterson said of
breaking the run if he was healthy.  “It wasn’t frustrating. It was
just disappointing. The main thing was to be out there helping my team. I was
out there putting my best foot forward. But there were a couple of plays where
I was like, ‘Wow, if I had that explosion, it would be a different
turnout.'”

Peterson has said this season doesn’t have the same feel as
2011, when Minnesota’s season spiraled to a franchise-record low 3-13 and
Peterson suffered the devastating knee injury in the penultimate week of the
season. Peterson points to three of the team’s losses in the final minute and
the feeling the team has let potential wins slip away late.

“I think that has something to do with the mindset that
we have, because guys realize that we kind of gave a lot of games away,”
Peterson said. “So, with that, guys are still fighting. Guys are still
practicing hard. Guys are still believing and that’s something I sense that I
didn’t sense back then. We still have that now, and that’s all you can ask for,
being 2-8.”

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