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Peterson: I'm no child abuser; Vikings say he'll play Sunday

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Adrian Peterson
In this Aug. 16, 2014, photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) warms up before a NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Minneapolis.
Ann Heisenfelt / AP

Updated 8 a.m. Tuesday

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will practice this week with the team and will play this coming Sunday in New Orleans, the team said Monday morning.

Peterson was benched over the weekend following his indictment in Texas on a child abuse charge tied to Peterson's disciplining of his 4-year-old son.

On Monday, however, the team said Peterson was cleared to play while the case works its way through the Texas legal system.

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The Vikings' decision isn't likely to quell the controversy, which has ignited a nationwide debate over violence, child discipline and when parents cross the line. 

Vikings' General Manager Rick Spielman faced intense questioning from reporters as he attempted to explain the team's decision to let Peterson play.

"We are trying to do the right thing," he said. "This is a difficult path to navigate, regarding the judgment of how a parent disciplines his child," he said, adding that the team believes Peterson deserves to play while the legal process moves forward.

Vikings GM Rick Spielman
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman speaks at a press conference at the Vikings headquarters on Monday, Sep. 15, 2014 in Eden Prairie, Minn. Spielman talked about the team's decision to allow Adrian Peterson to play the game against New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Yi-Chin Lee / MPR News

The general manager said the photos of the cuts and marks on Peterson's son were "disturbing" but added "we feel strongly it's the court's decision to make" on whether Peterson's discipline "went too far."

Spielman also denied that Peterson's superstar status had anything to do with the decision to let him play as the case continues.

Peterson released a statement apologizing for the "hurt I have brought to my child," adding that "after meeting with a psychologist" he knows there are other ways to discipline a child that may be more appropriate.

"I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser," the running back added.

Previous coverage:
•  Sunday: Vikings fans react to Peterson case
•  Running back booked, released from Texas jail

On Friday, Peterson's lawyer called the football star a loving father who disciplined his son with a wooden switch to deliver "the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas." 

An NFL spokesman on Monday said the league and its new special adviser are reviewing Peterson's case under its the league's "personal conduct policy."

The Vikings' decision to let Peterson play stands in contrast to what happened with some other Vikings players in similar situations. 

In 2011, the Vikings suspended cornerback Chris Cook with pay after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend and barred him from all team activities while his trial played out. Cook wound up missing 10 games and was eventually acquitted. 

He never faced discipline from the NFL and played two more seasons with the Viking before signing with the 49ers.

Last year, the Vikings cut cornerback A.J. Jefferson within hours after he was arrested on a domestic assault charge.

Asked about those decisions compared to the decision to let Peterson play, Spielman on Monday said every case is different.

The NFL is looking into Peterson's case, and if convicted he could face a minimum six-game suspension under the league's new tougher domestic abuse policy.

Peterson was expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday, though ESPN this afternoon reported the date's been moved to Oct. 8

The charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child carries penalties of up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

Corporal punishment is legal in Texas and non-deadly force against a child by a parent or guardian is permissible, but the punishment is abusive if it causes injury. 

A blow that leaves a bruise, welt or swelling, or requires medical attention, could be judged abusive. The guidelines also say use of an instrument ``is cause for concern.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.