Peterson's absence from minicamp irks Vikings' Childress
By Dave Campbell, AP Sports Writer
EDEN PRAIRIE -- Adrian Peterson Day took priority over Minnesota Vikings minicamp.
Peterson was absent from Friday's mandatory practice because of an event in his honor in his hometown, and coach Brad Childress is unhappy about it.
"I just know that there's a bunch of guys here," Childress said. "This has the term mandatory for a reason. The work's here."
The fourth annual Adrian Peterson Day is scheduled for Saturday in Palestine, Tex., where the All-Pro running back was raised. There will be a parade and a meet-and-greet session for the locals with Peterson, who has been mostly working out on his own in Houston this offseason.
Childress said he "had an inkling" about the conflict but that Peterson didn't tell him until an appearance at the team's facility this week.
"I don't know if it's going to be like every year they're going to have that," Childress said, "but we're going to have this too."
Asked whether he would consider this absence excused, Childress demurred.
"That's something that we'll talk about upstairs," he said.
Peterson, like several Vikings veterans, has chosen not to attend the voluntary practices and workouts in Minnesota this spring. The organized team activities, as they're called by the NFL, are important to the coaches and have become a part of the offseason routine around the league even if they're not contractually required for the players.
Wide receivers Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice and cornerback Antoine Winfield have all been working out on their own in warmer places, and Brett Favre is still in Mississippi without a confirmation if he's coming back for a 20th NFL season.
Asked whether he's worried that Favre's refusal to commit can give other players an excuse to skip town until training camp, Childress called the 40-year-old quarterback's situation a "special circumstance."
"I don't think Adrian's batting around retirement in his mind, I don't believe," Childress said, adding: "Is everything equal? Obviously it's not. That's just the way it is. That's matter of fact. I think everybody understands that part of the equation."
Favre's decision to have ankle surgery and a court ruling that kept a hold on pending four-game suspensions for defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams set the Vikings up to return their entire starting lineup from last season's NFC runner-up team. That's assuming linebacker E.J. Henderson and cornerback Cedric Griffin are able to eventually recover from their injuries, which might not happen in time for the season opener.
For this weekend at least, this model of stability was missing a few important pieces -- though these are non-contact workouts for a team that has had the same offensive and defensive systems in place for four years.
Childress said his understanding was that Peterson would miss the entire weekend minicamp, which includes two practices on Saturday and one more on Sunday.
Favre and defensive end Ray Edwards were missing too, but Childress didn't express concern about Edwards, who has yet to sign his contract tender and is expected to do so by Tuesday's deadline.
"I think he'd probably want to do that, wouldn't you?" Childress said.
Edwards was upset that because of the upcoming expiration of the collective bargaining agreement he was ineligible for unrestricted free agency. He had restricted status and signed a one-year tender.
"I know he understands that this is business," Childress said. "We've communicated back and forth, because nobody likes to practice more and play more than Ray Edwards."
The Vikings have been working on Peterson's fumbling problem, and on the field earlier this week Peterson and the other running backs carried a 14-pound, sand-filled ball that is supposed to help players develop a stronger feel for the ol' pigskin.
"It's akin to putting a weight on a bat and swinging it before you go to the plate," Childress said.
Asked whether the Vikings want to change the way Peterson carries the ball, the coach said: "When he's here."
The players, at least publicly, weren't worried about their missing-in-action teammates.
"I cry myself to sleep every night," defensive end Jared Allen said, with heavy sarcasm. He added: "Those guys are their own people. They're going to do what they do."
Allen was then asked what he would do if there were a Jared Allen Day planned in his hometown. "I'd be doing jumping jacks ... right now. I wouldn't even be here."
Winfield gave Peterson a pass, too.
"We know what he brings to the table. We know he's a hard worker. We're not worried about that," Winfield said.
NOTES: Winfield said his broken right foot, which kept him out of six games last season, finally felt better two months ago. "I went and had an injection that stopped the inflammation and knocked everything out," he said. "I've been running without any pain. I can't wait" for the season to start. ... Winfield said he has been focusing on footwork drills and workouts he used to do at Ohio State "that kept me healthy." ... Griffin only took part in stretching, but Henderson participated in footwork drills and is ahead of schedule following surgery on his broken left leg. "Nobody's told me to be pessimistic about it," Childress said, asked about Henderson's chance of playing in the opener.