AP: Close to returning, with something to prove

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With a new head coach and the loss of many of the team's veterans, Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson finds himself in a new role with the team.

There are only five players on the Vikings' roster with more experience, and none are more prominent, than AP.

With that in mind, Peterson spoke to reporters during a conference call on Wednesday afternoon and accepted first-year coach Mike Zimmer's call for leadership.

Zimmer said during a radio interview last week that Peterson doesn't get the benefit of the doubt for being the team leader simply because he's the most well-known player on the Vikings' roster. According to ESPN, Peterson said he was fine with that.

"I definitely understand where he's coming from when he says that," Peterson said to reports on Wednesday. "He doesn't know me that well. I met him. We talked. We chatted once or twice. I'm sure not only me, but everyone else has to prove that they are leaders of the team."

Peterson is recovering from offseason surgery on his groin. It sounds like Peterson is planning to return shortly.

He plans to participate in the Vikings offseason program once he's healthy. The Pioneer Press reports that he isn't ready to put a date on his return, but he expects to participate in offseason workouts.

"I can't say I'm back right now," Peterson told reporters. "But I'm not far off of that at all."

The Vikings' voluntary minicamp is April 29-May 1. Offseason workouts will be held in late may and early June.

Peterson said he was initially hoping to avoid surgery. The injury occurred at Dallas on Nov. 3 and he said originally it felt like it might be a strained groin.

According to the Star Tribune, Peterson said the foot injury that occurred late in the season was a reflection of the groin, because he wasn't able to cut and wasn't as elusive as he needed to be, but that he wanted to try and do the job no matter what.

Peterson finished the 2013 season with 1,266 yards rushing, down from his near-record 2,097 yards in 2012.

“Right now, the most important thing is being healthy. That’s what I’m doing. I’m rehabbing. I’m working out still to get the body back to where it needs to be.”

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