One of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's sons has died at a South Dakota hospital, according to the Sioux Falls Police Department.

In a brief phone interview with the Pioneer Press, Nelson Peterson, the boy's grandfather, said the child was not Adrian Jr. but another grandson.

"All I can say is, we are asking for prayers and for respect for our family as we deal with this tragic situation," Nelson Peterson said before the death was announced.

Adrian Peterson, excused from Vikings practice Thursday for what was described as a "personal matter," returned Friday but asked reporters to "respect my privacy" and not ask him about the specifics of the matter.

Adrian Peterson of the Vikings
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson at Vikings training camp in Mankato, Minn., on Friday, July 26, 2013. (Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin) (Ben Garvin)

"I should start off by saying I really appreciate all the support that I've been receiving from fans, the Vikings organization," said Peterson, adding that he would definitely play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at the Metrodome.

"You know, football is something I will always fall back on," he said. "It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that's what I need in my life, guys supporting me, and just being able to go out and play this game I love. Things that I go through, I've said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing."

An Argus Leader report identified Peterson on Thursday in Sioux Falls, S.D., where his son was then in critical condition after an alleged beating from a man dating the mother of the child, according to a report from TMZ.

Joseph Robert Patterson, 27, was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault and battery of an infant, according to Lincoln County Attorney Thomas Wollman. He made his first court appearance Friday and is being held on a $750,000 cash bond.

Joseph Patterson, who is charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery on an infant, leaves the Lincoln County Courthouse after a hearing in
Joseph Patterson, who is charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery on an infant, leaves the Lincoln County Courthouse after a hearing in Canton, S.D., on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. ( AP Photo/Argus Leader, Joe Ahlquist)

At a news conference Friday morning, Sioux Falls police and county authorities refused to confirm Peterson was the father of the child -- but also said they had been in contact with "representatives" of the parents.

"We're not here to talk about the parents of this child," Wollman said. "We wouldn't talk in a normal case about who the parents are."

Wollman added that the extra national attention is not impeding the investigation.

Patterson called 911 shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday to report a choking, according to police. At the hospital, it became clear the injuries were not an accident and were consistent with abuse, Sioux Falls police spokesman Sam Clemens said.

The relationship between the mother and Patterson was "fairly new," Clemens said. The child was alone with Patterson at an apartment complex when the 911 call was made

Vikings players rallied around Peterson, sending him text messages and offering their support Thursday and Friday.

"Being a father is the most precious part of your life," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen told the Pioneer Press. "You have to be there to support him. That's all it is, and I don't know what that entails, whether it's being a necessary distraction, or there to lend a comforting arm, hand, word, whatever it is.

"Everyone has different ways of going through things, so you give them their space, and if they reach out, you're there to do whatever they need. Too much emphasis gets put on football. We're all human beings, we all have real-life problems, and tragedy can strike anybody. I know Adrian is a man of faith, and God has a plan. All we can do is pray for him and lend a shoulder, a word or whatever it is. "

Tight end Kyle Rudolph said this reinforces that football isn't most important in their lives.

"We do everything we can to be there for Adrian. I know a lot of guys contacted him yesterday via text message or whatever, just to let him know that, 'Hey, we're here for you if you need anything. You're in our prayers, your family is in our prayers,' " Rudolph told the Pioneer Press. "We understand that Adrian is going through a lot. As teammates, while we're here at the facility, we can be there for him and try to make things as normal as possible."

Backup running back Toby Gerhart said situations like this show that the teammates are like brothers.

"It's cliched and everybody says, 'We've got each other's back when we go on a football field,' " Gerhart said. "But when something like this happens, it's truly a testament of being a teammate and how tight this family is. It's a tough situation."