Receiver Greg Childs said he likes to do things people say he can't and he has picked quite the mentor for defying the odds.
The 2012 fourth-round draft pick tore both patellar tendons Aug. 11 when he landed awkwardly on the second-to-last play of a live practice in front of 10,500 fans at Blakeslee Stadium. He had surgery two days later and has been working on his rehab ever since. Childs said this week he is hoping to work out during the offseason with star running back Adrian Peterson, who is still bucking the predictions that he would be back to himself less than a year after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.
Childs has been back at Winter Park and training hard. He plans to stay there during the offseason to continue his quest to return from an injury that could be career-ending.
"Offseason plan is train, work hard here, continue grinding. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to stay here, keep on working hard like I do. I'll probably work with A.P. a little bit. We'll probably do some things. That's just my goal for now," Childs said.
"A.P. is a great guy. I've been talking to him. I talk to him all the time. (He says) just keep grinding, just keep doing the things I'm doing. He likes what I'm doing. I get compliments down here like ‘You're working hard like A.P. worked. You all got the same work ethic. You come in here and you grind every day.' They're like, ‘I see you working every day.' You can ask any of teammates. They see me in here working every day."
It's a high compliment, indeed, to have his work ethic compared to Peterson's, but everyone involved is well aware of that not many NFL players have gone through Childs' predicament.
The Vikings knew of only one other case where an NFL player, Wendell Davis, a receiver for the Chicago Bears, tore both patellar tendons. Davis' injury came in a 1993 game at Vet Stadium in Philadelphia. He missed the 1994 season and attempted to come back and play for the Indianapolis Colts in 1995 but didn't appear in a game.
Two months ago, Childs said he would come back and play next season. On Monday, he was putting no timetable on his return.
"That's all above my head. It just depends what the team wants, what the coaches want and things like that. I don't think they're going to risk anything," Childs said. "They're going to make sure that when I come back I'm ready to go. I don't really know what the timeframe is going to be for that. When I do step back out there, I'll be ready to go."
Jarius Wright – Childs' high school, college and Vikings teammate – admitted that Childs has long odds to overcome, but he also talks to him regularly and sees him working out at Winter Park.
"The odds are against him, but at the same time you never know. Greg, he's still a young guy, a very blessed guy, a very humble guy," Wright said. "God works in mysterious ways. You never know what could happen. As long as he keeps his faith strong and keeps working hard, he should be fine."
Wright has seen his teammate go through the process before. Childs also tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in October 2010 while at the University of Arkansas and was believed to be back to full strength before the recurrence in August. The Vikings haven't put a timeframe on his return.
With a depleted receiving corps because of the injury to top receiver Percy Harvin, Wright said he does occasionally wonder if he and Childs could have teamed up for a more productive effort this year, just like they did during their days at Arkansas.
"We don't ever talk about it inside the room, but I've been with Greg for a long and I'm like, ‘Oh, man, what if we had Greg?' Just knowing the difference he can make and knowing the difference he's made when he's been on the field," Wright said. "We don't ever talk about it inside the room, but I'm always thinking in the back of my head, ‘What if Greg was out here?'"
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman called Childs' training camp injury a "freak thing" and said he's never seen a player so heartbroken. These days, however, Childs is upbeat as he attacks his rehab, and he is hoping to draw energy from Peterson, one of the most optimistic, strong-willed, odds-defying players on the team. Along the way, Childs has the support of many.
"Coach (Leslie) Frazier, all the coaches, everyone has my back," Childs said. "They've got my best interests. They're excited to see me come back and they love seeing me work."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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