Adrian Peterson confident about role, seeks off-field balance

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Life outside of football isn't back to normal for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, but he's doing his best to get there.

"It's normal, but of course it's different," he said at the end of Vikings minicamp Thursday. "I'm making it as normal as I can. I'm surrounding myself with people who love me and moving forward."

Peterson, who was indicted on child injury charges in September and eventually missed 15 games during his NFL suspension, was able to return to the Vikings on June 2 after an 8 1/2 month absence. Since then, he has gone through seven of the Vikings' 10 organized team activities and all three days of their mandatory minicamp.

He's feeling healthy, studying a playbook that is still familiar to him and playing with teammates Peterson said are growing closer with coach Mike Zimmer. Peterson will once again be a focal point of the Vikings' offense in 2015, his ninth season with the team.

At age 30, Peterson is still confident he can carry the majority of the workload in the Vikings' backfield.

"I feel like I'm blessed -- my mindset that I have, my work ethic, as well," Peterson said. "That's a big part of it. I'm sure some of those backs (who declined in their 30s) got tired of working out. I know a couple backs now that, if they had the mindset to go out and train and get their bodies right, even after 30, they'd be able to play another year or two, as well. I think it's all about how you approach it."

The running back went through a period of soul-searching after he was indicted on child injury charges in September and missed the rest of the season. He told ESPN in December that he had thought about retiring in the wake of his NFL suspension. Peterson also said in February that he was "still uneasy" about returning to Minnesota because of what he believed was a lack of support from the team and a harsh reaction from media and public officials in Minnesota after his indictment.

After talking with Zimmer in late May, however, Peterson decided to return to the Vikings for their second week of OTAs. He sounded relaxed as he spoke about his relationships with coaches on Thursday.

"(Zimmer) is a little more open. He's always seemed to have a sense of humor, to me, during my short time around him last year," Peterson said. "But you see a smile on his face from time to time (now. Last year), he just had that serious face on all the time. That's good. Guys feel comfortable around him."

Peterson said he hadn't talked to Vikings coaches about his role in the offense, but, although the Vikings plan to use Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata in spots, Zimmer didn't sound as if he planned to overcomplicate things once the Vikings arrive at training camp next month.

"Adrian will get most of it," Zimmer said. "Jerick will get some reps, and Asiata will get some reps. We're going to continue to play with the best players. Every week is different. Situations in the game change things, the game plan going in that week, things like that. But Adrian, he's the guy. He's going to get the ball, and those other two guys will have to fight for reps."