Sometimes timing is everything – both good and bad.
Vikings defensive end Justin Trattou was one of the bright spots of training camp and the preseason. Getting his first real opportunity to get playing time with the defensive line rotation, Trattou was one of the players who saw a ton of playing time during the Vikings’ five-game preseason and he earned his way into the rotation once the regular season began, recording an interception in the home opener against Detroit in September and getting rave reviews from his coaches and teammates.
Then disaster struck. In Week 3 against San Diego, Trattou suffered a severe ankle sprain that has had him sidelined for the last month, missing three games sandwiched around the Vikings’ bye week.
He wasn’t on the practice field Wednesday as the Vikings began their preparation for the Chicago Bears Sunday, but he is hopeful of getting back on the field Thursday or Friday and being ready if he is called on as a game-day active player Sunday at Soldier Field.
“It’s progressing nicely and definitely coming along,” Trattou said. “I’m just listening to the training staff, taking it day by day and hopefully I’ll be getting out there soon.”
The timing of the injury couldn’t have been worse for a player looking to solidify his place on the roster moving forward. It was a freak injury – he got caught up in traffic and rolled over on the ankle. The good news was that there wasn’t a break or any ligament or structural damage, but the bad news is that, despite being a quick healer, this one has taken longer than previous ankle injuries he has suffered during his football career.
“I’ve rolled ankles before,” Trattou said. “It’s just a process. It’s one of those things – there’s pain, but nothing crazy. It could be worse. It always could be worse.”
Trattou has been pushing himself through the injury protocol, more often being told to ease up on the rehab because the team doesn’t want a potential setback that could lengthen his stint on the inactive list.
However, he is convinced the worst of the rehab is over. He is feeling like his old self with each passing week and is confident that he will be back on the field soon, because it beats the alternative of being on the sidelines watching or in the training room getting treatment.
“It’s definitely been a little bit of a nuisance, but I’m working hard with the guys in the training room every day,” Trattou said. “They’re pleased so far, so we’re just getting after it.”
For a player who was looking to get the opportunity to be a contributor to the Vikings defense, his injury has set back that progress after a strong training camp and preseason. What has made the injury even more of a problem is that the Vikings defense has been coming together as a group the last couple of games since the bye week and he badly wants to be a part of it.
While is frustrated that his ankle hasn’t healed as quickly as he would have liked, the one thing he is pleased with is how well his defensive teammates have performed the last couple games. He wants it to continue … with him being back in the rotation and making plays as the Vikings attempt to remain one of the NFC’s hottest teams.
“Any competitor wants to be out there every second,” Trattou said. “It’s obviously not a fun time for me, but the team’s doing great so I couldn’t be happier. We’re heading in the right direction. I can’t wait to get out there and be a part of it.”