EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson has looked like himself through the first two days of organized team activity practices at Winter Park.
But the Vikings running back said he believes he's in the best shape of his career as he enters his 10th season in Minnesota.
"I'm in better shape," Peterson said. "I always try to come back and do better than I did the previous offseason.
"There's a lot of things that I was able to take back from last offseason that opened my eyes. It might be the little things, but I'm that much more focused," he added.
Peterson led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards in 2015 and tied for the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns.
Here are five takeaways on what the NFL's reigning rushing champion had to say after Wednesday's practice:
1. The Zimmer connection
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is known as a tough, hard-nosed coach who demands the most out of his players. Entering his third season under Zimmer, Peterson said he's just fine with that approach. Peterson said the two have an honest relationship where they keep each other's best interests in mind.
"I feel like we have a real good relationship," Peterson said. "(We're) truthful with one another. … He can tell me what's on his mind without holding anything back, and I do the same as well.
"When you have that kind of relationship, it's easy to be on the same page and not take things personally."
2. Climbing the route tree
Peterson spoke after January's Wild Card playoff loss about how he wanted to become more of a complete player in the offseason. The three-time NFL rushing champion said Wednesday that he focused on his route running this winter.
The 31-year-old said he ran routes after workouts. Peterson mentioned fellow Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon as a model for consistent route running out of the backfield.
"Really focusing on learning the route tree, just being more agile in running routes and not as stiff," Peterson said. "We have a young guy, Jerick, he's a pro athlete, and he does a great job when it comes to providing that scat back for us."
3. Back among friends
The Vikings went 11-5 and won the NFC North last season despite veteran offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan missing the entire season due to injuries.
Peterson, who has been teammates with Sullivan since 2008 and with Loadholt since 2009, said he was excited to see his old friends back on the field this week.
"(Loadholt) looks good, and Sully as well," Peterson said. "Having those guys back, it was exciting just to be out here and see those guys back in front of me.
"But not only back in front of me, they're out here moving around well. They're two of our leaders," he added.
4. Mentoring the young players
Peterson hasn't been shy about his expectations for the Vikings in 2016, recently telling Peter King of The Monday Morning Quarterback that his team has "a good chance" to win it all this season.
Peterson said part of the territory of making those comments includes mentoring younger players when the spotlight shines on the Vikings.
The running back said he's had multiple conversations with younger players about staying humble and keeping their work ethic up, especially as the season draws closer by the day.
"That's a big role, and the older guys and the veterans, they understand what we're trying to accomplish," Peterson said. "The young guys do, too, to a certain extent but I feel like it's my job to embrace them and encourage them.
"I've actually pulled a couple of the young guys aside and briefly talked to them and let him know that I've been watching and that I'm liking what I'm seeing. I make sure I always end it (by telling them) that we're trying to win a championship and we want you to be a part of that," he added.
View images from the first of ten OTA practices.
5. Tinkering with the offense
Peterson has long been known to take the majority of his snaps in the backfield, several yards behind the quarterback.
Many think the Vikings might add more plays out of the shotgun this year, and Peterson said he's been working on taking handoffs while lined up next to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"The biggest thing is just me being more patient," Peterson said. "That's something that you go through with practice reps, but it's something that I was more conscious of last year.
"I feel like here in the past couple of days I've done a good job of doing that but there's still room to improve," he added.