Near-record season not enough for Peterson

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2013 - 10:52 AM

He will push himself and his teammates hard this offseason.

Monday at Winter Park was, in many ways, just another typical getaway day at the end of a long NFL season.

The utter exhaustion from a season that began back on April 23 with more than 90 percent of the team showing up for voluntary workouts was palpable. And the sting from Saturday night's 24-10 first-round NFC playoff loss at Green Bay still hurt as players gathered personal belongings, scurried to flights bound for warmer climes and discussed the need to take time to get right physically, mentally and, in some cases, surgically.

"I'm not doing a thing for a few months," said defensive end Jared Allen, who will have shoulder surgery after the Pro Bowl.

That was the prevailing mood in every corner of the room, except one. In the back, right corner stood not only the face of this franchise but its 217-pound generator, still pumping at maximum nuclear capacity with no intentions of letting anyone relax too long or ever lose sight of the work needed to give the Vikings a chance at winning their first Super Bowl.

Yes, Adrian Peterson isn't satisfied. No, Peterson is not willing to rest beyond a few days, if that. Heck, the guy even spent part of Monday morning promising to do the unthinkable -- play hard in the Pro Bowl -- and the illogical -- use the Pro Bowl's $50,000 winner's check as motivation for a guy with a $96 million contract.

"It's a bonus," he said. "Guys look at that and say, 'We get this win, we get 50 more racks so we can give it to our mom, our dad, our family or go buy a car.' There's a lot you can do with 50."

People have called him "All Day" since he was a child. Heading into what sounds like an immediate sweat-stained offseason, perhaps it's time to call him, "All Day, Every Day."

Peterson fulfilled his goal of returning better than he was before tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on Christmas Eve 2011. He became the seventh NFL player to rush for 2,000 yards, falling eight yards short of Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season record of 2,105. And yet the indefatigable running back views those accomplishments as the merely the beginning steps en route to a 2,500-yard season and a Super Bowl victory.

"Having that experience last year," said Peterson, "now I get to go into this offseason with the same mindset: To become better than I was before."

Peterson also wants his teammates to join him, saying it "could be something special for us."

"I'll be reaching out to a lot of guys this offseason and try to get those guys to come up to Houston or Arizona, wherever I have to go to get a group together to work out," Peterson said. "We can start doing this thing together."

Players who have worked out with Peterson in the offseason before have found out he trains as hard as he runs the football.

"Some of the guys wanted to strangle me because I called them out," he said. "You know, 'Go harder, go harder!' But 10 minutes after you get through working out, you calm back down and you see that burn. It doesn't last that long. You got to learn to love the burn.

"And once you're relaxed it's like, 'It wasn't that bad.' Getting through it mentally, that's the only grind, but it makes you tough physically and mentally."

The players might not be the only ones getting advice from Peterson this offseason. Asked if he will say anything to General Manager Rick Spielman about signing soon-to-be free-agent right tackle Phil Loadholt to keep the offensive line intact, Peterson said: "I'll probably talk to 'em, just to get that guy in.

"[Loadholt] has been improving each year. I'm going to keep my arms around him this offseason as well, just to make sure he's staying on top of this game and he's working out and he's doing the necessary things to make someone want to bring you back as well. So I'll have my toe in somewhere."

Teammates don't seem to take offense to Peterson's desire to motivate them. Not after the season he just had.

"What Adrian did this year was inspiring," Allen said. "Not even just on the football level, just on the level of commitment. I think he's just a true example of never letting someone put limitations on you."

Allen then joked that Peterson has motivated him to get "2,000 sacks."

Later, Peterson talked about seeing the inspirational affect he has on people when Allen's joke about 2,000 sacks was mentioned.

"Hey, that's what I'm talking about," Peterson said. "He wasn't talking about 2,000 sacks last year or the year before."

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