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(HOUSTON) — Football star Adrian Peterson appeared in court Wednesday and was expected to enter a not guilty plea to charges that he abused his 4-year-old son.

The Minnesota Vikings running back faces charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after allegedly hitting his son with a switch, leaving welts and bruises. He was benched as a result of the charges, and placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, and the case prompted a national debate about corporal punishment.

Peterson appeared at a court hearing in Houston Wednesday morning because the charges were filed in Montgomery County, where he has a home. He arrived at the courthouse in a dark SUV shortly after 10 a.m. ET wearing a gray suit, a light shirt and dark tie, accompanied by his lawyer Rusty Hardin and a few supporters. When his name was called as part of the morning’s docket, Hardin responded, “He’s present with counsel,” and Peterson stood up and waved from his seat in the front row to indicate his presence.

ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack said Peterson, 29, may be looking for a quick trial date.

“That trial date is expected to be somewhere 6 to 12 months from now,” Cossack said. “If he is convicted, combining his age and the seriousness of what happened, his career could be in jeopardy.”

Peterson could face between six months and two years in prison, if convicted.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer remained cautious about Peterson’s chances to return to the team.

“If things get resolved and it’s a good thing, then the more power to him,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “We will worry about that when the time comes.”

Despite the controversy, Peterson is still collecting $11.75 million in salary from the Vikings this season.

Peterson maintained his innocence in a Sept. 15 statement through his lawyer, saying, “I never ever intended to harm my son. I will say the same thing once I have my day in court.”

Peterson has also defended himself in a series of Twitter posts, using social media to dispute a recent report alleging that his charity misused tens of thousands of dollars.

“I guess never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” he wrote.

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