Peterson not concerned about contract

Adrian Peterson is entering the final year of his contract, and

it could be argued that he has plenty of leverage if he wanted to

hold out of training camp to force the Minnesota Vikings into

getting a long-term extension done.

Peterson insists the thought never crossed his mind.

The star running back returned to Vikings camp on Friday after

missing three days for the birth of his son. He said he is not

concerned about his contract status or risking an injury while

playing arguably the game’s most brutal position.

”I’m not worried about my contract at all. At all,” Peterson

said, repeating it for emphasis. ”My main focus is doing what I

can do, learn this offense and help the Minnesota Vikings win the

Super Bowl.”

He is due to make $10.7 million in base salary after four

dynamic seasons helped him achieve every performance bonus in the

deal he signed after being drafted in 2007. He already has tied the

franchise record for career rushing touchdowns with 52, set the

franchise single-season rushing record with 1,760 yards in 2008 and

broke the NFL’s single-game rushing mark with 296 yards in

2007.

Last season he rushed for 1,298 yards and 12 TDs, earning his

fourth Pro Bowl berth in as many years.

The shelf life for running backs in the NFL is considered one of

the shortest of any position, and Peterson has put himself in line

for a big payday with his production. The Carolina Panthers gave

DeAngelo Williams, who has struggled with injury far more than

Peterson and has been far less productive in his career, $21

million in guaranteed money this offseason.

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is holding out for

more money, though he is due to make only $800,000 in base salary

this season. Frank Gore held out of the first four days of San

Francisco 49ers camp before reporting and Chicago’s Matt Forte also

has expressed a desire for a new deal.

”To each his own,” Peterson said. ”It’s different situations

for different guys. I’m not really hurting for anything. I’m

comfortable in the position I’m in. I’m ready to play ball.

”It wasn’t a decision that I had to sit back and ponder, if I

want to hold out or do this, do that. I knew when training camp

starts, I’m going to be there. There was no ifs, ands or

buts.”

Peterson said he was letting agents Ben Dogra and Tom Condon

worry about the contract, and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has said

repeatedly that locking him up with a long-term deal is one of the

team’s top priorities.

”He’s got a great attitude and he’s here to play, and I know

he’s going to let his representatives along with our organization

handle his contract,” Frazier said. ”And I’m sure that they’ll

get things done when they’re supposed to.”

Peterson showed up for work on the first day of camp on Monday,

but had to leave early to head to Houston for the birth of his son,

Adrian Jr.

”We’ll call him Deuce,” Peterson said.

He also said he regretted a comment he made during the lockout

that compared the NFL to modern-day slavery.

”I regret using those words because obviously there’s nothing,

absolutely nothing, you can compare to slavery,” Peterson said.

”It stands alone. It was something that I should’ve used better

wording to put that out there.”

He worked on a video with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher to raise

awareness about human trafficking and said they plan to do more

work together this year to continue to address the issue.

Now Peterson is focused on football and learning new offensive

coordinator Bill Musgrave’s system. He was thrown right back into

the thick of things on Friday, even participating in some live

tackling drills, which almost never happened over the last few

years.

”(Running backs coach) James Saxon said, `Coach, you all right

with Adrian being in there?”’ Frazier said after practice. ”`Yes,

I am.’

”Hopefully, it’ll pay off for us. We’ll have to watch some

things during the preseason. It won’t happen that often, but it’s

part of what we do for a living. It’s tackling. It’s hitting. It’s

running. It’s football.”

Musgrave has promised to get Peterson involved in the passing

game as well, and he made several nice grabs to showcase his

improved hands.

Peterson was drafted by the Vikings seventh overall in 2007, but

remained non-committal about his desire to stay in Minnesota for

the long term.

”I’m going to sit back and let the chips fall where they may,”

Peterson said. ”The only thing I can do is control what I can

control, and that’s coming out and making sure I’m prepared. Making

sure that I’m doing everything I can do to help this team win.

That’s been my focus for four years and this fifth year is going to

be the same.”

—(equals)

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