EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Rookie wide receiver Greg Childs walked through the Minnesota Vikings’ locker room Monday, flashing a big smile and showing no limp or the slightest sign of the potentially career-threatening knee injuries he suffered early in training camp in August.
Childs, a fourth-round draft pick by Minnesota in April, ruptured the patellar tendon in both of his knees during the team’s annual evening passing scrimmage in front of fans in Mankato, Minn. during training camp. Childs hadn’t been around the portion of the team’s facilities open to reporters very often since the injury, but has been in the building doing the rehab necessary to work his way back from the injury.
“I’ve been walking for a while,” Childs said, speaking to reporters Monday for the first time since the injury. “No braces, no nothing, coming in every day, getting the leg stronger, range of motion, working out, lifting weights, all that. It’s a long process, but you’ve just got to be prepared for it, get your head in the game, have your mind set.”
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Childs said he was headed out on the field to do some more work Monday, showing just how far he’s come in the two months since the injury.
“I can do a whole bunch of things,” Childs said. “I’m just going to keep behind the scenes and let you all, you know, just kind of find out slowly. I’m not going to put it out on tape for y’all right now. I’m doing good though. I know I’ve got a lot of people asking me, they hit me on Twitter like, ‘Are you doing OK? Are you back walking, and this and that?’ So, I’m doing good. Thing’s coming along just as it should.”
Childs had recovered from a torn patellar tendon in one knee during his collegiate career at Arkansas, making his way back and having proved to the Vikings he was finally 100 percent from the previous injury. Minnesota took a chance on Childs with the third of three fourth-round choices in the draft, No. 134 overall.
Going through the experience once has prepared Childs for what he’s faced this time around while trying to rehabilitate two legs. Following the injury in training camp, Childs had surgery and had to have both legs immobilized for a few weeks.
“Since I did it the first time, I already knew, you know, just what the rehab was going to be like, and how things were going to go and step-by-step,” Childs said. “It’s a long process to do, but you just got to keep your mind in. That’s all.”
Childs was placed on season-ending injured reserve after he cleared waivers during the preseason.
Two players in recent history, Cleveland Browns defensive back Gary Baxter and Chicago Bears receiver Wendell Davis, have both tried to return to the NFL after suffering tears to both patellar tendons, but neither played another game following their injuries.
The 6-foot-3, 217-pound receiver doesn’t doubt his ability to return despite the historical evidence against him.
“Next season,” Childs said. “I’ll be back on the field next season. So, I’ll be back out there running around doing my thing, making plays.”
He later added: “I like to do things that people think other people can’t do. I’ve got a strong head. You can ask any of the players in here, I come in here attitude good every day and in here trying to get right, trying to get back on the field. I’m going to do everything I can to step back on the field for next season.”
The screams from Childs when he suffered the injury during training camp were described as eerie. He jumped awkwardly for a pass near the end of the scrimmage and fell to the ground untouched. He acknowledged the devastation when he felt the pain and later heard the news.
“It hurt,” Childs said. “It kind of hurt my feelings a little bit. But you’ve just got to push through it. You’ve got to understand football is a game you’re going to get hurt. But it’s how you come back and how you respond when you do get hurt, when things go bad for you.”
Monday’s smiles showed Childs has come a long way, physically and mentally, from August.