EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -Ever since he was a Pop Warner mini-stud in little Palestine, Texas, Adrian Peterson has been taught to let his play do the talking for him.
By his mother, Bonita Jackson, the former Olympic sprinting hopeful who raised Adrian and had no problem chasing him down when he got out of line.
By his father, Nelson Peterson, who spent eight years behind bars for laundering drug money yet still managed to be a positive influence on his son's life - showing him how to look a man in the eye and deliver a firm handshake.
Polite, charitable and soft-spoken, Peterson has carried those lessons to the NFL in Minnesota.
Yet there are times in every young man's life when he has to branch out on his own.
Now, 25 games into his NFL career, Peterson is showing signs of taking on a new role that he never really has assumed before: vocal, inspiring leader.
After trying to lead by example and ingratiate himself with his teammates for the first season and a half, the Vikings running back decided it was his time to speak up last Sunday against archrival Green Bay.
Trailing 24-21 with 9 1/2 minutes to play in the game, for the first time in his football life, Peterson was no longer willing to stand idly by.
On third-and-1 from the Minnesota 41, he yelled to the sideline to demand the football. When Chester Taylor was stopped for no gain, Peterson stormed over to coach Brad Childress and animatedly urged him to go for it.
``It's definitely a part that I bring to my game and I am getting more vocal,'' said Peterson, The Associated Press Player of the Week after rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown in the 28-27 victory over Green Bay. ``And there's nothing wrong with that because you've got guys that listen. Even older guys sit there and listen to things you say. I just want to get those guys wired up.''
Then he fumbled.
The Vikings recovered behind the line of scrimmage, giving Green Bay possession with the chance to put away the game.
But the Packers could manage only a field goal, leaving the door open. Determined to atone for his mistake, Peterson touched the ball on six of the seven plays on the winning drive.
It ended when Peterson burst off right tackle and raced 29 yards for a touchdown, dragging Green Bay safety Atari Bigby the final 2 yards as his outstretched arm just barely got over the goal line with 2:22 to play.
,'' offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ``You could tell by the way he runs. I don't know if I've ever seen one where he hasn't been resolved and wanted you to come back to him.''
When the Vikings (5-4) took the field for that final drive, Bevell said he looked into Peterson's eyes and knew right then that the rarest of NFL stars - one who can win a game nearly all by himself - wasn't going to be denied.
It's a look Jackson has seen for years.
``Adrian has always had that mentality and that determination,'' she said. ``He wants to get out there and get the job done.''
The difference now is, Peterson feels secure enough in his standing on this team and in this league to make himself heard when the Vikings need a lift.
``I really felt like it was just the comfort level, getting comfortable with my team and the coaches,'' Peterson said. ``Coming in and having guys like Darren Sharper, Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk, guys that have been around for a long time, those guys are leaders too. But you really get to evaluate a lot and see who are the vocal leaders and who leads by example.
``I really just had to get a feel and know that a lot of guys really respond to some of the things that I do and how I practice and things like that. So as I just got more comfortable in seeing and noticing things like that, it was a step that I knew I had to make.''
At the tender age of 23, Peterson has already piled up a laundry list of breathtaking performances that have earned him the right to take control of this team.
``In his second year, coming off the year he had last year, he has a lot of respect from within this locker room,'' receiver Bobby Wade said about the 2007 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. ``That allows him to want to be more vocal and want to speak more.''
It's not something every player can do, especially one as naturally quiet as Peterson.
``He's just maturing as a player in the NFL,'' receiver Sidney Rice said. ``He knows he's one of the best players in this league and he knows what he has to do to try to bring the team along with him.''
Childress, the my way or the highway coach, didn't even mind catching an earful from his biggest star.
``He's highly competitive already, and then he gets his adrenaline going,'' Childress said. ``There's nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn't become a deterrent, where he's blinded by it. I'm glad that he's an emotional guy.''
There could be more where that came from. His first foray into the role helped snap a five-game losing streak to the hated Packers, and Peterson said he knows his words resonated with teammates.
``I see it in their eyes and I feel it in their play,'' he said. ``They show it.''

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