EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Working out at the team’s facilities, Minnesota Vikings receiver Greg Childs smiles widely, displaying a supreme confidence and looking nothing like a player in the midst of an intense rehab from a potentially career-ending injury.
Childs has always had that swagger, that confidence in himself and his physical gifts. It’s one reason that he never doubted he’d be back to play for Minnesota, even after suffering torn patellar tendons in both of his knees in training camp last season.
Childs has been running for about three months. He says he can run routes, though he doesn’t run through them full speed with his teammates yet. He’s done some cutting on those two surgically-repaired knees, even jumping on the knees that have let him down too many times in his career.
“I’m doing all the things I was doing before,” Childs said earlier this month while working out during the team’s offseason conditioning program. “I’m pretty much able to do all my drills, all the wide receiver drills as of right now.”
Some wondered if Childs would ever get back to doing receiver drills. Some still wonder if he’ll be able to regain the athleticism required to make it in the NFL. Childs is waiting for his chance to prove it.
In fact, he’s still waiting for his chance to prove to the NFL he can return from his first patellar tendon injury, which came to his right knee in his junior season at Arkansas. He returned as a senior, but wasn’t the same. The Vikings believed in him and drafted him in the fourth round. Then in training camp last year as a rookie, he went up for pass during the team’s annual night scrimmage and fell awkwardly, tearing the tendons in both knees.
He said he went to work as soon as possible after surgery.
“I stayed up here the entire time,” Childs said. “I might have went home a week and a half since I got hurt. So the rest of the time I’ve been doing my rehab here with (head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman) and them. I’ve got a great training staff. They’ve got me on schedule. They’ve got treatments, we do. We’re taking it slow but also we’re getting the most work we can.”
Though its two rare injuries, Childs said his knees aren’t susceptible to the injury and he’s working on getting his legs strong to avoid another tear.
“Basically, I just have to keep getting my quad strong,” Childs said. “And also when (Dr. Joel Boyd) went in, he did a great job. He went in and repaired both my knees for me. So basically he did something a little different than I had done the first time, which basically tightens it up and strengthens my knee. So I’m not really worried about it.”
And going through the rehabilitation previously, has aided Childs this time around. Even with the injuries to both knees this time, he said he feels he’s recovering quicker this time.
“Especially with two of them, I’m doing a lot of things that when I had my first one that I wouldn’t even be doing right now,” Childs said. “So it’s definitely coming back quicker. We’ve got a great strength staff. Come in here and work. Doing my upper body some days, the rest of the days I’m doing my lower, doing leg presses, things like that. Then go in with Suge and them and do my treatment. I come in early every morning. So really it’s seven days a week type thing. Not four. Not five.”
Childs gives off the appearance that he wants to be back to action for this season, that he believes he will be ready. But with the doctors and athletic trainers leading the way, he’s staying cautious and not declaring a return date.
“I’m always trying to get on the field as soon as I can,” Childs said. “But also when I get back everyone down here including myself wants to make sure I’m 100 percent. No sense coming back 80, 90 percent. That’s not really going to help the team out. And that’s what we’re trying to do now. Get me back on the field so I can help the team.”
Childs helping the team seemed like a long shot back in August, but while his return isn’t imminent, the potential seems more real. Childs always believed it. Others are seeing the possibility as well.Minnesota signed Greg Jennings, re-signed Jerome Simpson and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson. Combined with second-year receiver Jarius Wright, Childs’ childhood friend, the Vikings seemed to have address the position. Childs likely isn’t in those plans, yet.
The team’s coaches have noticed Child’s work. Receivers coach George Stewart is keeping an eye on Childs, who he offered an encouraging word to recently.
“He was telling me how he’s proud of the way I’ve worked,” Childs said. “Because I’m down here every day. I’m giving it my all with everything I do. He just told me that people take notice. If you work hard, come down here with a smile on your face and do what you’ve got to do, people will notice. That’s a great thing.”
His rehab and those around him are just giving Childs more reason to be confident.