It’s not often that a 30-year-old NFL rushing champion vows to work hard to come back as a better all-around player and a better fit for his offense at age 31. But that’s what Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did earlier today, a day after his fourth-quarter fumble essentially handed Seattle the go-ahead field goal in Sunday’s 10-9 NFC wild-card loss at TCF Bank Stadium.
“It’s about going back to the chalk board as a player and making sure that I’m staying focused on doing the things that are going to help my body heal up and come back and be a better player overall than I was this season,” Peterson said. “I will just go after it harder. There’s a lot of motivation going into this offseason. There are some things we want to accomplish this year. My mindset is to come back and be the best.”
Better in what way?
“The first thing that comes to mind is making sure that I put an emphasis on protecting the ball,” Peterson said. “That’s going to be my No. 1 objective this offseason. You take things for granted. I’ve joked around and said, ‘Yeah, I’ve put the ball on the turf.’ But how many have I lost? Guys have lost more fumbles than me this year, but when it comes back and it bites you in this type of way, it’s something that I’ll put an emphasis on for this offseason. That’s going to be the main thing. Being a better player and a better fit for this offense as well.”
“Just being more versatile,” he said. “You look at the young guy Jerick [McKinnon}. He comes in a lot of times on third down and he presents a different piece to our offense. Being able to get out and run routes and things like that. So I envision myself doing things like that on a different level. That’s what I mean by being more involved and being more diverse when it comes to the offense that we have.”
Peterson said his No. 1 goal is to win the NFC North again and to play in the Super Bowl in Houston, his hometown.
“It’s definitely realistic,” he said. “I feel like offensively there are some things we can do better as players. Defensively, those guys showed me something yesterday. And it’s not like I didn’t see it during the regular season. When I look at us overall, special teams as well, I feel like the sky is the limit. I think our chances are as good as anyone’s.”