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Peterson says ball security will be an off-season focus

After I talked to Bears rookie receiver Johnny Knox, I ran into Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Before joining the Sun-Times, of course, I covered the Vikings, including each of Peterson’s seasons.

He said he’s still not over his team’s overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday (“Three points away from playing in the Super Bowl; it’s tough,” he said).

But he made some strong comments on several other topics.

Most notably, he said securing the football was something he was going to focus on during the off-season. Peterson lost six of seven fumbles during the regular season then fumbled twice against the Saints, although the Vikings recovered both of them. A lost one, though, was credited to Brett Favre, even though it was a fumbled exchange between him and Peterson.

“There’s like a rap sheet that’s out there now,” Peterson said. “Guys would rather hit the ball than tackle me. I put it on myself. That comes with the way I run. It’s something I’m going to focus on, as far as switch it up a little bit, and carry it higher, or what not. But there’s some things I’m going to correct.”

Peterson downplayed the criticism he’s taken for his fumbles.

“It’s part of the business,” he said before pausing. “I don’t know. If you ask 32 teams if they’d like to have me on their team, let’s see what they say.”

Peterson said it was an honor to play with Favre this season and hopes he returns in 2010.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “You (saw) what he did this year.”

As for himself, Peterson said he plans to come back “bigger, stronger, faster.”

“A better player he said. “Come back the best player I can possibly be.

“Come back with a beast mentality.”