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Adrian Peterson to plead not guilty to child abuse charge

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson looks on

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson looks on during training camp in Mankato, Minn., July 28, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall

HOUSTON - A spokeswoman for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's attorney said Tuesday the NFL player plans to plead not guilty to a child abuse charge during his first court appearance in Texas since his indictment last month.

Peterson was scheduled to be in court Wednesday in Conroe, located north of Houston. Mary Flood, a spokeswoman for Peterson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said that if asked at the hearing, Peterson will plead not guilty to a charge of injury to a child.

Peterson has said he never intended to harm his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a tree branch earlier this year. Prosecutor Phil Grant declined to comment Tuesday on whether the case could be settled without a trial. If convicted, Peterson faces up to two years in prison.

Peterson was put on paid leave by the Vikings, using a special roster exemption from the NFL commissioner, a few days after the indictment. The chance of his case being resolved before the end of the season appears slim, but coach Mike Zimmer declined Tuesday to address speculation about Peterson's return to the team in 2014.

"Honestly, I want the best for Adrian, number one, OK? But I also have to coach the guys that are here and go forward. If things get resolved and it's a good thing, then the more power to him," Zimmer said. "We will worry about that when the time comes."

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