EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Overcoming major surgery is of little concern to Adrian Peterson. The Minnesota Vikings star running back proved to be the modern marvel for recovery.
Along the way, though, Peterson learned steps must be taken, including overcoming the mental aspect of the return and getting over the thought of re-injury. Consider him past his latest hurdle after his third straight offseason of surgery.
"I’m well enough to go out and perform and not really feel like I’m going to injure myself or hurt myself," Peterson said of his recovery. "I still have a little work to do to get the strength back in the groin, but I’m comfortable when I’m out there practicing."
Peterson is a full participant in Minnesota’s organized team activities and said there are no lingering issues with the groin injury which caused him to have surgery after last season. In April, Peterson participated in the Vikings’ voluntary minicamp as the players adjust to new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s system.
But Peterson was held back at least a bit in April. There’s nothing holding him back now as Minnesota works through its offseason program.
"He looks great," coach Mike Zimmer said. "He’s made some tremendous cuts. I think he’s — you’d have to ask him, but he seems to be excited to be here, about some of the things that’s we’re trying do to with him, but I think it’s only going to continue to get better."
Peterson’s excitement helps explain, in part, his presence during OTAs. Peterson hasn’t always been a full participant in the team’s offseason program but he’s trying to learn Turner’s system and terminology as quick as a possible.
"I’m definitely closer," Peterson said. "Where I’m at now, the terminology, I’m starting to pick it up even more. It’s all about staying in that playbook, understanding the terminology and breaking the play down. It’s going well."
As he embarks on the first year of his tenure as Vikings’ coach, Zimmer seemed to acknowledge Peterson’s past of skipping some workouts and appreciated the 2012 NFL MVP’s presence as Zimmer sets a tone with his new team.
"It’s good for him to be here and I know other places there are other things going on, but I told him I appreciate him being here," Zimmer said.
Peterson is coming off a down year, by his own lofty standards. Limited to just 14 games because of the groin and an injured foot, Peterson ran for 1,266 yards, which ranked fifth in the NFL. The total was actually the second-lowest, single-season mark of Peterson’s career, ahead of the 970 yards he rushed for in 2011 when he suffered torn knee ligaments.
There’s another reason Peterson is trying to acclimate himself to the new offense. Turner has talked about getting Peterson more involved in the passing game.
Peterson’s career high in catches was 43, set in 2009. Last year, he had 29 catches for 171 yards.
Turner’s offenses have always featured strong pass-catching backs in Brian Mitchell, Larry Centers, LaMont Jordan, LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, to name a few.
Peterson is eager to get his hands on the ball in a different manner.
"I’m pretty excited about that," Peterson said. "The whole running back room is, just to be more diverse as an offense. And be more involved in the pass game is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time."
The Vikings drafted running back Jerick McKinnon in the third round earlier this month and believe he can be a pass-catching back to complement Peterson.
"I like the kid," Peterson said of McKinnon. "He’s quiet, but he’s a hard worker. A smart kid, you can see he’s hungry to learn. When I’m watching him in meetings and things, and out here at practice, he’s definitely picking up things, picking up the offense well. He’s quick, got some great explosive that I’ve seen. I think he’s going to be able to do some good things."