EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Longtime teammates welcomed back Adrian Peterson to the Vikings Winter Park headquarters while other players met the running back for the first time Tuesday at the team's fourth of 10 organized team activity practices of 2015.
Brian Robison pretended to be a photographer at the end of the tunnel from the Vikings locker room as his 2007 NFL Draft classmate walked out to the Winter Park practice fields. John Sullivan and Peterson, chatted as they left the fields about 2 hours later.
View images of Adrian Peterson from Tuesday's OTA No. 4.
"It was great to see him. We're just happy he's here," Sullivan said. "He's got fresh legs. He looks as good as ever. We've grown close over the years, especially professionally, won a lot of football games together, and I know he's a key piece to what we want to get accomplished this season so we're all excited for him to be here."
It was the first time Sullivan snapped a ball that eventually wound up in Peterson's hands since September. Teddy Bridgewater intermediated the connection via handoffs, tosses and passes. Sullivan said the 2012 NFL MVP looked great at the get-go, just like teammates expected.
"We know that no matter where he is, he's staying in shape," Sullivan said. "Nobody ever worried about that. He looks like he's ready to be the MVP of the league again."
Charles Johnson, who emerged as a playmaker for the Vikings last season after he was signed from the Browns practice squad, has been a little start struck the past five days. He met Brett Favre when the quarterback stopped by Winter Park on Friday.
"It's pretty crazy, I think I just met two future Hall of Famers," Johnson said. "When they told me Brett was here, I was like, 'I've got to meet him. He's a legend.' It was awesome. It's not every day you get to meet somebody like him. Everybody knows who Brett Favre is, and it's cool to have AP back."
Johnson was assigned the locker to the left of Peterson's after the running back was placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List last September. The third-year receiver met the Vikings all-time rushing leader for the first time, an introduction that included a firm and sincere handshake, Johnson said, but one that also left him trying to get a grip on the return.
"We introduced ourselves to each other," Johnson said. "It was crazy because we went for the handshake and he squeezed my hand so hard. That's the type of guy he is. He loves this game and he's a nice guy from what I can tell, very nice, very genuine and I'm just happy to sit next to him and have him back on our team.
"Today at practice, I kind of caught myself on run plays looking to see what he does," Johnson added. "I told Harrison Smith on one run, 'Man, he cuts the ball. He cuts up so fast.' It's good. He's the face of this franchise, and we're happy to have him back."
Running back Jerick McKinnon, who as a rookie, combined with Matt Asiata for the bulk of work at running back last season said the position group is excited for Peterson's return.
"Glad to have him back. I'd probably say one of our main leaders," McKinnon said. "Everybody welcomed him back and is happy to have him back in the running backs room. You can learn from a guy like that."
FEELING BETTER, FASTER: McKinnon rushed 113 times for 538 yards (4.8 per carry) and caught 27 passes for 135 yards before a back injury sidelined him for the final five games. Fully recovered, McKinnon is showing speed that earned him the nickname "Jet."
"I feel faster. Some days we've got an early lift and I'm hitting the legs pretty good and don't feel as fast, but when I go back and watch the tape, I look fast, so I'm just trying to keep building off the momentum from workouts and all that stuff," McKinnon said. "It feels great to be back out there with the guys and running at a good pace and not feeling any pain or anything like that."
PREMIER EVENT: Rookie receiver Stefon Diggs was one of more than 40 players from across the league to attend the 21st annual NFLPA Rookie Premier in Los Angeles over the weekend.
Diggs said he enjoyed reconnecting with receivers he met during the pre-draft process like Amari Cooper (Raiders), Dorial Green-Beckham (Titans), Jaelen Strong (Texans) and Kevin White (Bears).
"It was a great experience, just an honor to be there," Diggs said. "It was out of 40 guys, so it was an honor to be invited, a great time, great to see all the athletes you know and went through the process with, so you wish them well. It was nice to see them, but it's back to work now."