MINNEAPOLIS -- There are only five players on the Minnesota Vikings' roster with more experience, and none more prominent, than Adrian Peterson. The 2012 NFL MVP has worn the unofficial face-of-the-franchise title for most of his seven seasons with the Vikings, except in perhaps the two years he shared it with Brett Favre, and he'll certainly have it when the Vikings start the 2014 season.
But coach Mike Zimmer said in a radio interview last week that Peterson doesn't get the benefit of the doubt for being the team leader simply because he's the most well-known player on the Vikings' roster. Peterson said on Wednesday he was fine with that.
"I definitely understand where he's coming from when he says that," Peterson said on a conference call with reporters. "He doesn't know me that well. I met him. We talked. We chatted once or twice. I'm sure not only me, but everyone else has to prove that they are leaders of the team. That's something that I really take pride in as well. That's all a part of me taking care of my business when I'm away from the facility. It's normal. It's a normal routine for me."
Peterson will be playing for his third head coach in seven seasons, and spoke out in favor of retaining former coach Leslie Frazier at the end of the 2013 season. His relationship with Zimmer hasn't developed much yet simply because the two haven't had time to work together in the same building, but there's no reason to think they won't connect before too long. At age 29, Peterson likely knows the rest of his prime is in Zimmer's hands, and though the Vikings probably won't lean as heavily on Peterson as they have in recent years, he's still going to be the most prominent player on their offense. If Zimmer's remarks to an Austin radio station were meant to issue a bit of a challenge to Peterson, the running back seems willing to accept it.
"I'm working out extremely hard to be productive for my team," Peterson said. "Coming off the groin surgery [he had in January], I was slowed down a little bit, but I've been able to recover a lot faster. So, yeah, it is what it is. I respect what he has to say."