It has been a difficult career for Michael Mauti so far, especially when it comes to staying healthy.
The Minnesota Vikings linebacker has had injury problems ever since he was playing at Penn State, where he tore both anterior cruciate ligaments. He has had a total of three ACL surgeries and was also put on the injured reserve toward the end of last season when he got a knee cleaned out.
Bouncing back after that many setbacks can be difficult for any player, but Mauti doesn’t look at it that way. Instead he looks at it with a more positive light and focuses on the fact that he is feeling good right now.
“It’s just part of the game,” he said. “You can’t control what happens to you. You just control how you respond to it. This is the best I’ve felt since I’ve been in the NFL so I’m just trying to stay healthy and find a way to contribute to this team.”
The linebacker credits the way he feels to his workout regiment this offseason. He was able to stay at home and work out with some people he has known for a long time and that made him feel more comfortable all around.
“I was training for six weeks at home during the break,” he said of the down time between minicamp in June and the start of training camp at the end of July. “Down in the heat and I like it down there. I’ve got my own system I’ve been on so I think it’s just a matter of one more year, more mature, healthier and I feel great.”
Now that he is feeling healthier than ever, Mauti’s main focus is improving his game, whether it is on special teams or on the defensive side of the ball.
He feels more comfortable in Mike Zimmer’s defense and believes that is a big reason for his development in this camp.
“I think this year we are a little further along as a defense,” he said. “Just because a lot of guys, this is our second year with Coach Zimmer and we know what the expectations are and so we’ve been trying to meet those and just get better every day.”
There is a lot of depth at linebacker this season for the Vikings. Do the math. The Vikings are likely to keep six linebackers. They are almost guaranteed to keep Chad Greenway, Anthony Barr, Audie Cole, Eric Kendricks and Gerald Hodges. Because of that, Mauti is likely a roster-bubble guy, along with four other linebackers, but having that amount of depth has made him a better player, he believes, because there is more competition.
The linebackers are pushing each other every day while fighting for a place on the team. They say they aren’t worried about who makes the team; they are just worried about the team being the best it can be.
“Absolutely, everybody’s pushing each other. And it’s a great group of guys, not selfish guys and guys who just want to go out and work and help the team win, so I think it’s good,” he said.
The competition has been put on hold for at least a day with training camp wrapping up and the players heading home. Mauti is excited to get some down time, but he knows the grind will pick back up again on Saturday when the Vikings play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their second preseason game.
Mauti: ‘Best I’ve felt in the NFL’
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