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Upon further review, Peterson decides not to play in preseason

MINNEAPOLIS--Adrian Peterson hasn't run the ball in a preseason game since 2011. And that won't be changing this year. The Vikings running back said Thursday he won't play in either of the final two exhibition games, and next will take the field ...

Kneeling on the sidelines with Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata quarterback Teddy Bridgewater lets lose a yawn as he watches the second team in scrimmages in the afternoon practice on the third day of the Minnesota Vikings training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato on Sunday, July 31, 2016. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)
Kneeling on the sidelines with Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata quarterback Teddy Bridgewater lets lose a yawn as he watches the second team in scrimmages in the afternoon practice on the third day of the Minnesota Vikings training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato on Sunday, July 31, 2016. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

MINNEAPOLIS-Adrian Peterson hasn't run the ball in a preseason game since 2011. And that won't be changing this year.

The Vikings running back said Thursday he won't play in either of the final two exhibition games, and next will take the field for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener at Tennessee.

Peterson said in May he was "itching" to get preseason carries. But he said he ended up changing his mind.

"I just really thought about it and didn't feel like it was the best thing in my interest, knowing that I can be ready for the first week against Tennessee, like I've done a thousand times in the past (when not playing in the preseason),'' Peterson said. "That's pretty much what it came down to.''

Peterson said the final decision was his. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said last week that if Peterson wanted to play, he would be receptive.

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"It was my decision," Peterson said. "If I would have said, 'Hey, I want to play,' I'm sure he would have open to it."

The Vikings close exhibition play with games at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday against San Diego and Thursday against Los Angeles. Peterson didn't deny some fans will be disappointed not seeing him when the new building opens for football.

"I can definitely understand that, but we'll have that opportunity Sunday night against Green Bay, so I'm looking forward to it," Peterson said of the first regular-season game Sept. 18 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The 10-year veteran hasn't had an exhibition carry since he suffered a serious knee injury in December 2011. He played briefly in a 2013 game at San Francisco but didn't touch the ball.

There has been a big difference with how Peterson has looked in regular season openers after carrying the ball in the preseason compared to when he didn't.

In five openers after getting exhibition work, Peterson has averaged 114.2 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry. In four openers after he didn't, Peterson has averaged just 70.8 yards per game with a 4.3 average.

Peterson said in May he was hopeful of playing in the preseason to "get the legs moving and get the pads'' on. He ended up weighing the pros and cons, with the latter obviously involving possible injury.

"There's always some good you can get from it. ... Getting that first layer of contact out of the way and some reads at full speed,'' Peterson said. "There's some good and some bad. I just decided to wait until the games count.''

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Peterson did note that he sat out the 2012 preseason and ended up rushing for 2,097 yards, second-most in NFL history.

Perhaps some preseason reps could have benefited Peterson in running out of the shotgun. Peterson has had struggles with that formation but claimed he is improving.

"I'm liking it more,'' Peterson said. "I was always against running out of the shotgun, but now I've switched and tweaked the way I'm approaching it. ... I'm getting good at it.''

Peterson said the improvement has been a result of practice reps and watching film, and then correcting mistakes.

"His style is to get the ball and go fast, and sometimes in the gun, you have to be a little bit more patient,'' Zimmer said. "You have to be a little bit more rounded. You've got to get your shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. ... He's better behind the quarterback than he is in the gun, I would guess, but he has been working hard at it.''

Not playing in the preseason also delays Peterson getting comfortable in a game behind a retooled offensive line. The Vikings added free agents Alex Boone and Andre Smith, moves Peterson has liked.

"As far as the mind-set, (the line is) a little more aggressive with the attitude,'' Peterson said. "The biggest thing for me that I've noticed, they just play with a little bit more of a sense of urgency, more energy.''

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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson walks onto the field during the afternoon practice on the second day of the Minnesota Vikings training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato on Saturday, July 30, 2016. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson walks onto the field during the afternoon practice on the second day of the Minnesota Vikings training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato on Saturday, July 30, 2016. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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