Adrian Peterson says he is returning to Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson says he is returning to Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson runs across the field before an NFL preseason game against the Houston Texans in Minneapolis on Aug. 9, 2013. (Genevieve Ross / Associated Press)

Adrian Peterson may have a had frosty relationship with the Minnesota Vikings' brass, but that isn't stopping him from returning to the practice field.

Peterson took part in voluntary organized team activities with the Vikings for the first time this off-season Tuesday. He hadn't put on a Vikings uniform since September, when he left the team to address child-abuse charges.


"What it came down to was getting back in the game," Peterson said in an afternoon newsconference at Winter Park. "I've been working on keeping my body in shape. It came down to getting back in the building, being around my teammates, being around the coaches …. I reached out and kind of gave them the heads up that I'll be in town and I'll be here.

"I didn't address the team at all … the guys that know me, they addressed me and I addressed them. It was family. It was different because I hadn't been in the building for a long time, but the love was there."

Coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media as well.

"We welcome him with open arms, unequivocally," Zimmer said of Peterson. "I know what kind of person he is and what's in his heart."

In a letter to the Associated Press, the embattled running back said he will participate in voluntary organized team activities with the Vikings starting Tuesday and that he's excited about his return.

Peterson also was the only Vikings player who didn't take part in voluntary OTAs last week.

"I've been away from the game for an entire season," Peterson wrote. "I wanted the chance to be around the players and coaches, the guys that really matter to me."

Peterson recently said he isn't happy with his current contract situation with the Vikings. He is slated to make about $45 million over the final three years of his current contract, but tweeted last week he'd like a deal with more long-term security.

The 2012 NFL most valuable player said a family commitment kept him out of last week's voluntary workouts, but he also stressed his actions were "normal procedure for any player in my position to want to secure his future."

Peterson hasn't enjoyed a rosy relationship with the Vikings' front office since he last played. The Vikings put him on the commissioner's exempt list shortly after child-abuse charges against him surfaced, barring him from all team activities. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for striking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch while disciplining him, but felt he did not have the team's support throughout the ordeal.

Peterson also has been the subject of numerous trade rumors during the off-season, but those rumors have fizzled since the NFL draft.

"I understand this is a business. Clearly there were a lot of emotions involved, but I will only be better from the situation," Peterson wrote. "I have a role to play and the Vikings have one as well. It's time to move forward and put my energy and focus on preparing for the season."

Last week, Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer drew a line as to where Peterson could stand with the team heading into the season.

"He can play for us, or he can not play," Zimmer said. "He's not going to play for anybody else and that's just the way it's going to be."