You knew there was a problem when you heard wide receiver Greg Childs scream as he landed awkwardly on the sidelines near the end zone on the second-to-last play of Saturday night’s scrimmage at Blakeslee Field on the campus of Minnesota State-Mankato.
The only question was which knee did he hurt? Sadly the answer may be both, according to 1500 ESPN.
There was a lot of confusion around the injury. The play was long bomb from quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Childs leaped to catch the pass with defensive back Corey Gatewood behind him. Both players jumped – Childs to catch it and Gatewood attempting to deflect it. Childs came down in a strange position, his right leg hitting the ground first and buckling and his left knee taking the full load of his weight when came down.
Where the confusion came in was that, as Childs rolled over screaming – a sound that could be heard by most of the fans in the west bleachers – he was grabbing his right knee. But, as the team medical staff came out on the field, most of the attention was given to Childs’ left knee.
Head coach Leslie Frazier, wide receivers coach George Stewart and fellow rookie teammate Jarius Wright, who has played football with Childs since their Pop Warner days in Arkansas, all said after the practice that they didn’t know Childs’ condition, but all three looked as though it might be a significant injury.
“You hate to see any player go down for any reason,” said Frazier, himself a victim of a career-ending knee injury during the Bears’ Super Bowl win over New England at the end of the 1985 season. “Greg has struggled with injury, as we all know, coming out of college, but hopefully things will work out and it’s nothing serious.”
For those who saw the injury, it looked as though it couldn’t be anything but serious.
Childs was viewed as one of the top wide receivers in the country entering his junior season at Arkansas, but tore the patella tendon in his right knee and missed the rest of the season. Once viewed as a first-round pick, he struggled in his return to the Razorbacks in 2011 and, given his lackluster season, he dropped all the way to the fourth round and the Vikings. He also missed out on a lot of the offseason workout program after suffering a calf strain during the rookie minicamp in May.
The Vikings have an off-day Sunday.
Perhaps the most troubling part of the injury was how he was removed from the field. Most players who suffer knee injuries have the classic photo op moment of having his arms around the shoulders of teammates or medical staff and not bearing weight on the injured knee. When Adrian Peterson tore his knee up against Washington last year, he left the field with his injured leg not touching the ground. Childs was lifted by four of the Vikings medical staff and placed on a cart – the first clue that both knees might be injured.
For a rookie who was hoping to be an impact deep threat and red zone mismatch, his 2012 season may well have ended with a scream that sideline observers won’t soon forget.
The Childs injury marred what had been a festive atmosphere. The Vikings projected the crowd at Blakeslee Field at 10,500 – a record for an intra-squad night scrimmage at Mankato.
After Childs’ injury, it was unclear whether the practice would continue. Because the offense was heading in the direction where Childs lay on the ground, the officials turned the offense and defense around, sending the offense away from where the medical staff was treating Childs. The offense ran just one more play before the practice concluded.
Guard Geoff Schwartz was at the scrimmage on Saturday, but not only wasn’t he active, but he may not be ready for the start of the 2012 regular season. Frazier announced that Schwartz suffered a sports hernia injury that will require surgery and will likely be out a minimum of one month.
“We are expecting him to have surgery,” Frazier said. “We will know more after the surgery, but generally you can expect (a rehabilitation) time of at least four weeks.”
It would appear the Vikings may have feared that Schwartz’s injury was serious. The team added two guards to the training camp roster – Bridger Buche and Grant Cook – Saturday.
Adrian Peterson remained sidelined as he rehabilitates his knee injury and won’t be at Monday’s practice. He is expected to fly to Houston for a court appearance stemming from the much-publicized nightclub incident with off-duty policemen working as bouncers at the club. Barring a settlement, Peterson is expected to appear in court with his attorney Rusty Hardin, who has vowed that the evidence will exonerate Peterson.
One of the stars of the night was rookie cornerback Josh Robinson, who has missed most of the first week of training camp with a hamstring injury. Earlier in the day, defensive coordinator Alan Williams said the Vikings were taking Robinson’s recovery cautiously and slowing – hoping to see improvement with each passing day. On Saturday night, Robinson was front and center in the Vikings secondary. He broke up one pass and closed quickly on Michael Jenkins to prevent him from taking a pass in for a score.
“It was good to see him out there,” Frazier said. “He’s missed a lot of time in the short time we have been here. To see him out there getting his hands on balls is a good sign for us. We are counting on him to be a factor in our secondary, so it was great to have him back running around and participating.”
Christian Ponder had a very solid outing, putting a lot of zip on his passes and completing eight of 12 pass attempts in team drills. By far his primary target was new Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson. But, in red zone drills he completed a pair of touchdown passes to Percy Harvin.
Kicker Blair Walsh got some of the loudest ovations of practice. He made seven of eight field goals from 35 to 50 yards, including a 50-yarder that went through with 10 yards to spare. While Ryan Longwell was known for his accuracy, Walsh clearly brings the bomb threat from the kicking threat, as balls exploded off his foot and most landed 10 rows or more in the end zone bleachers.
One of the stranger moments of Saturday’s practice session was what sounded like a group golf clap by several fans in the east bleachers – loud enough and with enough participants that it got the attention of the Vikings offensive players on the sideline. The reason for the applause? A fan who was swearing loudly and often was escorted out of the stadium by police. Apparently several people around the belligerent fan had asked him to tone down his language because of children nearby. When he continued, the cops were summoned and he was removed from the stadium.
Devin Aromashodu got perhaps the loudest cheer of the night when he pulled in 50-yard bomb from Bethel-Thompson.
Derrick Coleman proved to be a hard man to stop. In what was supposed to be essentially a non-contact scrimmage. Coleman took a handoff up the middle and despite whistles being blown by Frazier and replacement officials, Coleman refused to go down. Defensive players stacked him at the line and several offensive players got involved. In the end, Coleman, who likely would have been whistled down due to stopped forward progress, made it over the goal line. Coleman later broke a long run in 11-on-11 drills.
Joe Webb was a little erratic in his throwing, but threw a textbook fade pass for a touchdown to tight end Allen Reisner.