Second to quarterback Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson has been the Viking who has received the most media attention this offseason.

The fact that Peterson missed the team's mandatory minicamp in June because he took part in the fourth annual "Adrian Peterson Day" in his hometown of Palestine, Texas, was big news for days.

And then there has been the speculation that Peterson is unhappy with his contract. Some media members didn't expect the great running back to report for the opening of training camp.

"My mind is focused on getting back to the NFC North and winning that, and getting to the Super Bowl," Peterson said. "Any negativity blown my way, I just jump over it.''

Peterson said he was able to do everything at home that he could have done at Winter Park.

"You know when you're working back at home, there's different stuff that we do, that I do as an individual," he said. "I've been playing this game since I was 7, so I know my talent and I know what type of work, extra work, that I can put in for myself to improve in different areas and different things.

"When you have a team- system setup, which is wonderful, it's good, the guys definitely get work done," Peterson added. "But there's different tweaks that I can do if it's me working out with a personal trainer, having that one-on-one time, two-and-a-half, three hours a day. Being with him, that benefits me."

Speaking of some media criticism he has received, especially about his fumbling, Peterson said: "I know, they've got to find something to point at. It doesn't bother me. My skin is real thick, so I can take it."

As for a possible contract extension -- he is set to make $6.5 million this season -- Peterson would be all for it. "Yeah, you know who wouldn't [want a new contract] with the collective bargaining situation at hand?"

Peterson said his focus is on the upcoming season.

"I'm here at training camp because I love to play this game," he said. "I'm going to continue to be here and get ready for the season. But there is a business side to it, also. As fans looking in, they really don't understand that, so they kind of speculate on their opinions and what they might think about the situation."

Because of tightness in his left leg, Peterson has been limited in training camp. That has given some of the younger backs an opportunity as the team looks to fill the void of Chester Taylor, who signed with the Bears as a free agent and will be tough to replace.

Good hires

Maybe the best thing that happened to Gophers football coach Tim Brewster was the fact that neither his co- offensive coordinator, Jeff Horton, and his wide receivers coach, Steve Watson, were not able to get NFL jobs after last season. Horton, who was the Detroit Lions' quarterbacks coach last year, spent four seasons as an NFL assistant. Watson spent, eight seasons as a Denver Broncos assistant.

Horton's and Watson's availability gave Brewster a chance to make two great additions to his staff. Horton also was the University of Wisconsin quarterbacks coach from 1999 to 2005 and head coach at Nevada in 1993 and Nevada-Las Vegas from 1994 to '98.

Horton and Watson give the Gophers staff two outstanding assistants with NFL experience.


• Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi is back from the Big Ten meetings in Chicago, where the big topic was how the conference will establish two divisions for football. He said it's no sure bet that the Gophers will be in the same division with either Iowa or Wisconsin or both, despite their longtime rivalries. Maturi said there are so many longtime rivalries among Big Ten teams that it will be impossible to keep them all with two six-team divisions, beginning in 2011 when Nebraska joins the conference.

• Gophers basketball guard Devoe Joseph suffered a quadriceps injury while competing for a spot on the Canadian national team and might miss the Gophers' three September exhibitions in British Columbia. However, that decision won't be made until the University doctors and trainers examine Joseph when he returns to the Twin Cities in a week.

• The Gophers basketball coaching staff is hot after point guard Naadir Tharpe, who will be a senior at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H. Tharpe was a teammate of incoming Gophers freshman Maurice (Mo) Walker, who is enrolled in summer school at the U.

• Visiting the Minnesota campus on Wednesday was Chip Armelin, a 6-2, lefthanded guard from Sulphur, La., in whom the Gophers have interest.

• Former Gopher Damian Johnson has signed a contract to play for the Oita Heat Devils of Japan's professional league.

• Eden Prairie catcher Matt Halloran, who was named the most valuable player in the American Legion Division I state tournament, will be a Gopher this fall.

• The first 2,500 fans attending Sunday's Lynx-New York Liberty game at Target Center will be given a bobblehead of former Gopher and current Lynx star Lindsay Whalen.

• Former Vikings draft pick Tyler Thigpen is starting training camp as the No. 2 quarterback on the Miami Dolphins' depth chart. Thigpen appeared in one game for the Dolphins last season, completing four of eight passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. ... reports that former Gophers running back Marion Barber III most likely will remain the team's No. 1 running back after offseason speculation that Felix Jones might overtake him. Barber rushed 214 times last season for 932 yards and seven touchdowns.

• Anthony Swarzak has struggled for the Twins' Class AAA Rochester farm team this year. He lost his fourth consecutive start for Rochester on Thursday, allowing nine hits and seven earned runs in four innings in an 8-2 loss to Syracuse. In his past 10 starts, Swarzak is 1-9 with a 8.12 ERA, giving up 43 earned runs in 47 2/3. innings pitched. On the season, he is 2-10 with a 7.13 ERA in 16 starts.

• The Society for American Baseball Research announced it will hold its annual convention in Minneapolis in 2012. The group held its 1988 convention in Minneapolis. This year's convention, the 40th annual for the 6,700-member group, is being held in Atlanta this week. Next year's convention will be in Los Angeles.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. •