Stephen working his way back to ‘ball out’

How close is Shamar Stephen to coming back? He and Mike Zimmer discuss.

Shamar Stephen walked slowly off the Minnesota Vikings’ practice field Wednesday after the morning walk-through with a sleeve on his left knee.

The second-year defensive tackle had arthroscopic knee surgery last week and is hoping to be ready “as soon as possible.”

“I’m just coming back whenever they give me the green light,” he said. “Still looking at film, still trying to go over my technique.”

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer liked what he saw before Stephen’s surgery and said from everything he is told he believes Stephen will be back for the start of the regular season but made it clear that he won’t be playing this Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.

“He’s missed an awful lot of time. He was really coming on before some of the things he did early on and the first preseason game, some of the things he did really showed a lot of improvement,” Zimmer said. “Now we just have to wait and see where he is when he comes back.”

Stephen said there was no specific play that ended his preseason prematurely, rather “just wear and tear” on the knee, but he wants to return “as soon as possible.”

Stephen played in all 16 games as a rookie after being drafted in the seventh round, making three starts. He ended up playing in 37 percent of the defensive snaps as a rotational guy at defensive tackle behind Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph.

“I’m just looking here to work and come back ready to play and just be able to ball out,” he said. “… I’m feeling pretty good.

“I had pretty good doctors and it was a good surgery and everything seems pretty good. I’m just waiting to come back and play.”

Stephen finished his rookie season with 51 tackles and seven quarterback hurries.

“I’m really excited about the season,” he said. “We have a lot of good teams we’re playing this year.”

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