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Sunday, July 29, 2007
Updated: July 30, 10:11 AM ET
Vikings agree to five-year deal with top pick Peterson

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Tailback Adrian Peterson ended his two-day absence from the Minnesota Vikings' training camp on Sunday afternoon, reaching agreement on a five-year contract with a maximum value of $40.5 million and including $17 million in guarantees.

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Front offices and fans alike of the Raiders and Jets are going to have to sit tight. These two rookies -- including JaMarcus Russell (right) -- are far enough apart in contract talks that they won't be seen in camp anytime soon.

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Expected to share the load in the Minnesota backfield, where he will split time with veteran Chester Taylor, who rushed for 1,214 yards in 2006, Peterson was the seventh overall player selected in the draft. While there were some concerns about his durability, and specifically about a fractured left collarbone that sidelined him for seven games last season, the Vikings felt he was too good to pass on.

Minnesota did extensive background work on Peterson's collarbone injury and determined that he would be able to rehabilitate without surgery, which turned out to be the case. The gamble on Peterson, one of the most celebrated high school backs in the past decade when he decided to enroll at Oklahoma, could pay off handsomely for coach Brad Childress.

With a first-year starter at quarterback, in Tarvaris Jackson, the Vikings are likely to rely heavily on the run in 2007, and the combination of Taylor and Peterson should provide them a very solid tandem.

Peterson, 22, carried 747 times for 4,045 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Sooners, and had 24 catches for 198 yards and one score. He rushed for 1,000 or more yards in each of his three college seasons, but his best performance came as a freshman in 2004, when he had 1,925 yards despite starting only eight games.

Blessed with a thick upper body, Peterson possesses a rare combination of size (6-feet-1½, 217 pounds), speed and strength. He was clocked at a blistering 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, and showed superb athleticism with a 38-inch vertical jump and a long jump of 10-feet, 3-inches.

Most of the concerns about Peterson revolve around his upright running style, which means he absorbs a lot of hits, and could be susceptible to injury.

In 2004, he suffered a left shoulder injury that subsequently required surgery the following spring. He had right thigh and ankle injuries which slowed him in 2005, then the fractured collarbone last season.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com