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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings C Elflein ready to return after long offseason recovery

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings will get starting center Pat Elflein back in some capacity on Sunday when they hit the field against the Buffalo Bills at US Bank Stadium. And while Mike Zimmer would not elaborate on how many snaps he will take, the Vikings’ line will get an instant boost by having him back.

Elflein suffered an ankle injury against the Philadelphia Eagles that required surgery. He had also been battling a shoulder issue that forced him to go under the knife. While the team had said early in the offseason that the second-year center would be back for training camp, he ended up spending the entire camp rehabbing on the side and did not appear in a preseason game.

Elflein was forced to sit on the sidelines for the first two contests of the year. This week he was a full participant in practice for the first time since the NFC title game.

The Vikings’ 2017 third-round pick said he spent his time during camp practices visualizing how he would handle certain situations.

“When I can’t physically be out there, it’s about being engaged mentally and being a part of everything, being a student of the game,” Elflein said. “Instead of putting my focus on [the physical part], I just turned to rehab and the mental part of the game. We all communicate well, we’re all on the same page.”

“There are times when I couldn’t go that I was standing right there getting a mental rep just listening to it,” Elflein continued. “So then when I get out there playing, I can look back to all those mental reps I got… When I couldn’t physically go through all the protection reps and make all the calls, I’m back there watching mentally going through it and processing it.”

Cousins was asked earlier in the week about making the adjustment to Elflein on the fly.

“We signed Brett Jones I think a week and a half before the first game and he was out there ready to go, so you just roll with it,” Cousins added. “This is life in the NFL. If you’re waiting for a perfect situation and to be totally comfortable, you’re going to be waiting a long time.”

The Vikings may want Elflein to split snaps with starter Brett Jones in order to get him up to full speed for next Thursday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, who sport two of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen. He said simply getting back to practice helped prepare him get ready to handle physical battles.

“That’s kind of a step this week that we took going full participation,” Elflein said. “It wasn’t actually just this week, it was just getting back to practice, I was feeling good, then take it to the field and start feeling that contact. I’ve been working through that since I got activated to start the [regular] season.”

The post Vikings C Elflein ready to return after long offseason recovery appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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