Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said he's getting close to being able to participate in the team's offseason conditioning program and that he fully understands and wasn't bothered when new head coach Mike Zimmer went on an Austin, Texas radio station and said that Peterson needed to prove himself as a leader on Zimmer's team.
Speaking to reporters via a conference call set up to promote Peterson's investment in a medical recovery device called Hyperice, Peterson said he's bouncing back well from the groin surgery he had in January. It's the third straight offseason in which Peterson has had surgery. He had major knee surgery before the 2012 season and hernia surgery before last season.
"I can't sit here and say I'm back right now," Peterson said. "But I am not far off at all."
As with most athletes, Peterson was more revealing about the timing and seriousness of his groin injury today than he was last season. Peterson said he originally hurt the groin on Nov. 3 at Dallas. He played in the next seven games before taking a seat early in the second half of the 15th game of the season at Cincinnati. To be fair, the team didn't hide the groin injury and there were times during the second half of the season when the whole football-watching world knew Peterson wasn't anywhere near 100 percent.
Here are a few highlights of Peterson's conversations with reporters:
On his groin surgery in January:
"To be honest with you, I didn't know what to expect. I was hoping I wouldn't have to have surgery. [The injury] happened Nov. 3 [at Dallas], and originally it felt like it might be a strained groin. Gradually, it continued to get worse and then we went to Baltimore [on Dec. 8] and I had the foot injury. It all came back to the previous groin injury. The foot injury was a reflection of the groin because I wasn't able to cut and I wasn't as elusive as I needed to be. But being the competitor that I am, I didn't come out and say that. I'm going to go out and try to do the job no matter what.
"I felt like I didn't really have the lateral movement, but I was still going to be able to get outside the tackle box and cut upfield. ... It was a situation that put me possibly in a bad predicament. But now I'm feeling good. I'm training hard. My recovery is connected as well. So I'm using the Hyperice. Icing is the key. I've been sitting back, working out, recovering my body and getting ready for the season.
On Zimmer's comments about Peterson needing to prove he's a leader:
"Being around a new coach for the third time, yeah, I definitely understand where he's coming from when he says that. 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. When I'm not in Minnesota, I'm taking care of my body. I'm working out extremely hard to be productive for my team. Coming off the groin surgery, 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."
On participating in the team's offseason program, which began on Monday:
"I haven't been able to put a date on [when I'll be there], but, yeah, I do [plan to] as far as participating. Right now, the most important thing is being healthy. That's what I'm doing. I'm rehabbing. I'm working out still to get the body back to where it needs to be. Talking about the Hyperice, it's a big part of my recovery as far as being able to ice different parts of my body to speed up the recovery time, to get me back out on the training field to be able to be productive and work towards getting back to my normal self."
Peterson was introduced to Hyperice by NBA star and fellow Univeristy Oklahoma product Blake Griffin. According to the Hyperice company, the device provides the benefits of cryotherapy and compression, enabling the reduction of swelling and the healing of tissues. Considering that Peterson set the bar for all future ACL recoveries, he's quite the company spokesman.
"It's a game-changer for me," Peterson said of Hyperice.