Adrian Peterson
Suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will plead not guilty to child abuse charges Reuters

Suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was expected to plead not guilty to child abuse charges at his arraignment before Montgomery County (Texas) District Judge Kelly Case, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday. The pro football player came under fire earlier this year after he used a switch (small tree branch) to discipline his 4-year-old son who was visiting him from Minnesota. Peterson, 29, is due in court at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

"If the court asks for a plea tomorrow [and we do expect that to happen], it will very definitely be not guilty," Mary Flood, the spokesperson for Peterson attorney Rusty Hardin, told ESPN in an email Tuesday. "We hope that a trial date is also discussed but don't yet know how the court's docket is looking."

Adrian Peterson
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson talks on the sidelines during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome, Dec 15, 2013. Reuters/Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

If the athlete’s lawyer is unable to convince a jury his client did not violate Texas' corporal punishment law while disciplining his son, Peterson will probably not be able to play the 2014 season. "I hope we learn more tomorrow," Flood said, "but it's possible that we won't get a date tomorrow and we'll just get the beginnings of discussions about a date."

As Peterson’s career hangs in limbo, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer did not seem confident Peterson would play for the team this season. "I don't know that that's not going to happen in 2014," Zimmer said during his press conference, according to ESPN. "Honestly, I want the best for Adrian, No. 1. Okay? 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,” he added. “We will worry about that when the time comes."

Peterson, 29, has maintained his innocence. "I never ever intended to harm my son,” he said in a statement Sept. 15. “I will say the same thing once I have my day in court." He has been on suspension since Sept. 17, Fox Sports said.

Adrian Peterson
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) leaves the field after a season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers following their NFL NFC wildcard playoff football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin, January 5, 2013. Reuters

The player could face six months to two years in prison if he is convicted, ESPN reported. He could also be suspended for six weeks under the NFL's enhanced domestic violence policy.

Peterson took to Twitter after the Minneapolis Star-Tribune accused his charity of improperly using funds. Some of the cash may have been used to pay for a night of drinking and sex in a hotel room with a minor, the story alleged. He made sure to add “just in general” after his post, without denial of anything that was mentioned.

Peterson is said to have fathered six children out of wedlock, the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported. In 2010, two of them were reportedly born to different mothers a month apart.

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