They say football is an emotional game. Adrian Peterson is trying to make sure it doesn’t become too emotional when he finally returns to the field for the Vikings’ regular-season opener at San Francisco on Monday night.
“I’m pretty fired up, but mostly just focusing on my assignments, the preparation and just leading up to the game,” Peterson said Friday during a press conference in the locker room at Winter Park. “I’m still doing a good job of keeping everything inside.
“I’m looking forward to [the game], but I’ve been trying to keep it inside to not get too excited. It’s hard, but I know from the past that when I go into a game and I’m too wired up, then you kind of forget about your principles when you’re out there, being slower and letting things develop. I’m conscious of that and when that first snap comes, whenever it is, first, second play, third play, second series, I don’t know, I’ll take a deep breath and be ready to roll.”
Peterson was asked if he’s visualized what his first carry will look like and whether he’s thinking something along the long touchdown run he broke loose on to open the 2013 season at Detroit.
“I have visualized that a couple times,” he said. “But I’m not making any predictions. I’m just going to go out there and what happens, happens.”
Other highlights from the Peterson press conference:
On this goals for the team and for himself: “Personally, I feel like we collectively offensively and defensively, we have a lot of talent. A lot of young guys as well. A younger team. But some young guys that can really play ball, so I got to give [General Manager] Rick Spielman a pat on the back for doing a good job of just drafting some good talent. So I feel like the sky is the limit for what we can accomplish as a team moving forward.
“As far as my personal goals, first, win a championship. That’s the ultimate goal. And, you know, I always set my bar high and shoot for big numbers. You know, 2,500 [yards] and be productive as well in the pass game. And whenever they call my number just making sure I’m out there taking advantage of my opportunities that I have to run the ball, catch the ball and I make sure I protect Teddy [Bridgewater] as well.”
On whether he expects to get the ball more in the passing game while playing under offensive coordinator Norv Turner: “Norv Turner has a great mind. You look at his track record and any running back who has played in his system definitely got the ball in their hands one way or the other. So I think that should answer your question.”
On whether he’s concerned about the 49ers defense because of past struggles against it: “Not really. You just go in and it’s a new year, different faces on both sides from both teams. You just try to move forward and try to control what you can control.”
On whether he thinks Monday Night Football is the perfect setting for his return: “I do. I do. I do. It’s going to be exciting for me, first game back, and all the guys as well. It’s a Monday night game, your first game of the season so everyone will be excited for it.”
On the biggest challenge he faces in having not played in a year: “I would say after the game, just really seeing how my body is going to feel from the pounding because one thing I know about their defense, they fly around to the ball and it’s a physical defense, which I love. After the game I think the recovery from your body not being pounded on through a whole season, I think that’ll probably the biggest challenge – seeing how soon I recover.”
On whether it takes time to get the timing down with the new faces on the offensive line: “Yeah, a little bit. Joe [Berger], he’s been around for a minute, so he’s been in the mix a lot. I don’t think it will be too difficult for him to adjust or us to adjust to him. And a young guy we have playing tackle, he’s doing a pretty good job. Unfortunately, Phil [Loadholt] went down a couple weeks ago so this young guy has the opportunity to get in there and that’s why we practice. I’m always pushing those guys to, ‘Hey, we need to go full speed because this is going to be what it is in the game, especially when I’m coming your way, I don’t want to run you over or find my facemask in your back. You’re not going to like that.’
“He understands that. I feel like as a group the guys are working to get better. We’ll see how things hold together on Monday night.”
On whether being too wired early in the game could put him at risk for injury: “I don’t think injuries has anything to do with it. Just missing your assignments. I think that’s the main thing. You get out there and it’s a run play and you’re too anxious, too excited and you hit the hole too fast, and you’re beating the offensive line. If he’s pulling, you’re beating him to the gap. So I would say that’s probably the only thing, as far as the running back position, that if you go in and you’re too wired up.”