Adrian Peterson, who fought his own NFL suspension from late last season into the offseason, said Giants receiver and NFL pariah du jour Odell Beckham Jr. shouldn’t have been suspended for his unruly behavior throughout Sunday’s matchup with Carolina cornerback Josh Norman.
“It was unfortunate from both sides,” the Vikings running back said Wednesday. “I like both of those guys. Both are great football players in my eyes. It got physical out there. To me, the way I play, I like that.
“Both of them, did it kind of get out of hand on maybe one play each? Yeah. But my personal opinion, I didn’t think it warranted a suspension. That’s my one opinion. I had an opportunity to reach out [via text] to the young guy, Odell, and told him, ‘Hey, just learn from it and keep your head up.’ ”
Norman was fined $26,044 by the league for his part in the melee. Beckham lost his appeal of a one-game suspension that knocks him out of Sunday night’s game against the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. Giants coach Tom Coughlin was asked during a conference call with Twin Cities media whether there was anything more he could have done to help the situation on Sunday.
“Me done differently?” he said. “We had talked about that circumstance during the week. We had tried to make sure that he was set in his mind and what could potentially happen and how they might try to provoke him and that he would have to be able to deal with it and walk away from it. It came as a surprise when it got out of control.
“The thing I hope he learns is that personal battles have no business in our game. This is about team.”
Asked if the suspension could help him teach a player known for having a volatile demeanor, Coughlin said, “I hope that’s not the means by which [to teach].
“We continuously try to teach young players about circumstance. But if you think he’s the only individual wrong in this situation, you’re naïve.”
Without Beckham, Giants quarterback Eli Manning is missing 26.1 percent of his completions (91), 35.8 percent of his passing yards (1,396) and 40.6 percent of his touchdown passes (13). The Giants’ next leading receiver, Rueben Randle, has 40 fewer catches for 758 fewer yards and seven fewer touchdowns.
“Outside of Eli Manning, [Beckham] is their best player,” Peterson said. “So it hurts them.”
Meanwhile, Peterson missed Wednesday’s practice and was on the injury report with ankle and shoulder issues that aren’t believed to be serious. He is coming back from an ankle sprain that limited him to six second-half carries in Sunday’s win over the Bears. But the fact he came back and played after twisting the ankle was a good sign, he said.
“I feel pretty good,” Peterson said. “Right now, I’m in pretty good position.”
Peterson might need to play if he’s to win his third NFL rushing title. In a two-man race, Peterson and his 1,314 yards lead Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin by only 9 yards.
Peterson hasn’t led the league in rushing since his 2,097-yard MVP season in 2012. But he did make the Pro Bowl for the seventh time in nine seasons.
“He looks like he’s 25,” Coughlin said.
But he’s 30. Yes, 30. An age that Peterson made note of when asked if this is a year of vindication for him.
“I always expect greatness for myself when I step on the field,” he said. “So the critics who say, ‘He’s 30,’ the critics who say, ‘Oh, he had a year off’ or just want me to fail because of their opinion of me, you know, here I am. I’m blessed. God has had me covered and continues to show that he’s covering me.”