EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- There are still several steps Adrian Peterson would have to take to get back on the field for the Minnesota Vikings, and it remains unclear at this point whether he would get that opportunity. But if Peterson did rejoin the Vikings this season, two of his backfield teammates say they would be happy to have him back.
Fullback Jerome Felton and running back Jerick McKinnon have stayed in touch with Peterson while he's fighting child abuse allegations and is away from the team. Peterson was arrested on Sept. 12, and placed on the commissioner's exempt list five days later, meaning he would be banned from all team activities until his legal situation was resolved. ESPN's Adam Schefter and Michele Steele reported on Sunday, however, that Peterson could plead guilty as soon as Tuesday, which would conceivably put the matter back in the league's hands and could start a process that would get Peterson reinstated this season.
"I think we’d be happy to have him back," said McKinnon, who is the Vikings' leading rusher in Peterson's absence. "He’s a leader on this team. He’s done a lot for this team, this organization, over the past years. I think it’d be good for the team, having his leadership back, and of course his ability and talent and everything he can do as well.”
The Vikings lost four of their first five games without Peterson, and initially struggled to run the ball with McKinnon and Matt Asiata. They have won two consecutive games, though, to get to 4-5 heading into their bye week, and McKinnon has run for 446 yards on 90 carries.
The rookie would likely see his role diminish if Peterson were to rejoin the Vikings this season, but McKinnon said it wouldn't change his outlook on the season.
"I would feel the same way I am right now -- blessed," he said. "Obviously, if Adrian comes back, he’s going to be the starting running back. It’s just one of those things where everybody has a role. You’ve got to accept it. I accept it for what it is. I still continue to learn, still continue to get better, find a way to perfect my craft and get better day-in and day-out."
Felton, who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl for his role as Peterson's lead blocker during the running back's 2012 NFL MVP season, said he has traded text messages with Peterson several times since he was banned from the team.
"He’s staying strong. He’s doing as good as he can, despite the circumstances. I just showed him my support," Felton said. "He’s one of the top five players in the world. That would be exciting if we could get him back."
Coach Mike Zimmer said he hasn't been paying much attention to the Peterson developments, and didn't want to talk much about what the Vikings would do if the running back is reinstated this season. He did say, however, he has no qualms with having Peterson around.
"I only go by what I see, and Adrian has always been great around me," Zimmer said. "He's been top-notch, first-class, does everything I've asked him to do. I'm not going to speculate on what happens. When and if it happens, I'll be glad to talk to you about it."