EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said he is certain he will play Sunday, despite a serious personal matter that caused him to miss practice earlier this week.
Peterson declined to speak Friday specifically about the situation, asking reporters to respect his and his family’s privacy. His father, Nelson Peterson, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that one of Peterson’s sons was in critical condition at a hospital in South Dakota.
Prosecutors and police in South Dakota declined to confirm that Peterson is the father of a 2-year-old boy who was hospitalized with severe head injuries in Sioux Falls on Wednesday. Police described the child’s condition as consistent with abuse.
The man accused in the case, Joseph Patterson, 27, is charged in Lincoln County with aggravated assault and aggravated battery on an infant. He had a court appearance Friday and was ordered held on $750,000 cash bond.
Jane Bammert, owner of the Little Coalinga Bar, confirmed to The Associated Press that Peterson stopped by the Sioux Falls restaurant Thursday for a turkey sandwich. He was not at practice that day for what the Vikings described only as a personal matter.
Peterson smiled politely while he took questions after practice Friday, but he spoke softly with a somber expression with dozens of cameras, recorders and media members surrounding him in the locker room.
“I’ll be ready to roll, focused,” Peterson said, looking ahead to the game against Carolina. “I will be playing Sunday, without a doubt.”
Peterson is second in the NFL with 421 yards rushing and first in the league with five touchdowns.
“Football is something I will always fall back on,” Peterson said. “It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that’s what I need in my life, guys supporting me. … Things that I go through, I’ve said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I’m able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that’s what I plan on doing.”
The Panthers were sympathetic.
“It’s absolutely terrible. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, and hopefully things work out,” coach Ron Rivera said.
Coach Leslie Frazier said he thought Peterson practiced as well as he could Friday considering the circumstance.
“He seems like he was into it, engaged in what he had to get done,” Frazier said. “Obviously tough. He’s human. But he was into it mentally, best as he could be.”
Fellow running back Toby Gerhart said Peterson is well supported in the locker room.
“It’s hard for any man to admit that he’s hurting or he needs help or anything like that,” Gerhart said. “For us to be around him and tell him we’ve got his back, if there’s anything he needs that we’re there for him, I think that goes a long way.”
Associated Press writer Carson Walker in Sioux Falls, S.D., contributed to this report.
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