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Adrian Peterson hopes new WRs can help lift Vikes to new heights

Adrian Peterson is one of seven players to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a season. (John Biever/SI)Adrian Peterson is one of seven players to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a season. (John Biever/SI)

The Minnesota Vikings signed veteran Greg Jennings away from the rival Packers this offseason. They also traded up to draft Cordarrelle Patterson in Round 1 and converted former backup QB Joe Webb to wide receiver.

Adrian Peterson hopes those moves are enough for the offense.

"I’d be kidding if I told you Percy Harvin could be replaced, a flat-out lie," Peterson said during an interview to promote EpiPen and raise awareness of the dangers of anaphylaxis, which Peterson dealt with after an allergic reaction to seafood last offseason.

"Greg Jennings is really going to help a lot," Peterson continued. "He can fill the void. He's a veteran and can (provide) leadership for the young receivers -- teach them how to have a connection between receivers and the quarterback."

Peterson could use a little more help this season than he received in 2012, no matter the source. Making a remarkable recovery from the devastating knee injury he suffered late in the 2011 season, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and caught 40 passes, despite Harvin being sidelined by injury for seven-plus games.

Harvin and Peterson, when healthy and on the field together, formed one of the league's most potent 1-2 punches. But the Vikings opted to trade Harvin, who both suffered from and created headaches, to the Seahawks this offseason.

The result is that Minnesota will head into training camp still trying to fully pin down an offensive identity, with QB Christian Ponder fighting for his starting spot against new arrival Matt Cassel.

"We’ve got some blank spots to fill, but I feel like our GM did a great job bringing young guys in," Peterson said. " And that’s what we need -- guys who are ready to come in and play, ready to make a difference."

Peterson himself enter the 2013 season nearly two years removed from his ACL injury.

"I am getting tired of people asking (about the knee)," Peterson told SI. "I had a pretty good season, I won MVP  -- why are you still asking about the knee? It is what it is, people are curious, it’s a topic of conversation."

Part of why the discussion has yet to fade is that another NFL superstar, Robert Griffin III, fell with a similar injury during last season's playoffs. Like Peterson before him, Griffin appears on track to make a startling recovery and be ready for the open of the regular season.

Peterson had not talked to RGIII about his injury as of the time of this interview, but he expressed full confidence that Griffin would bounce back.

"I have reached out to different guys, give them advice on what to expect when they come back from that type of injury," Peterson said. "Everyone heals differently, small detail things. A lot of guys out there, like RGIII, I feel like can come back and be just as good or better."

Of course, a healthy Griffin would enhance Washington's status as a playoff contender again, perhaps making the Vikings' own road to the postseason more difficult.

Minnesota needed until Week 17 last season to wrap up a playoff spot -- and were it not for Peterson's 199-yard outburst against the Packers, they might have missed out altogether. Much of the Vikings' 2012 success came with Harvin on the sideline. But matching or surpassing their 10-6 mark will require someone (and likely multiple players) to step up and take some of the heat off Peterson on offense.

"It’s not to me all about personal stats," Peterson said. "I am a competitor, I like to perform well, but it’s all about the team goal to win a championship, that’s my main agenda.

"If even more success comes but I’m less productive because more guys are involved, then yea, I’m there for it. I want a championship -- the city, state, team, you’ll always remember that. Hands down, there's nothing that compares to that."
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