Former Georgia safety Lewis Cine was back in action in Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday, a year after he was drafted in the first round and just a matter of months following a leg injury that ended his 2022 season in early October.
Cine, taken No. 32 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft after the Vikings traded up to take him, suffered a compound fracture injury to his lower leg during a punt coverage play in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints. The injury – which took place overseas in London – required multiple surgeries.
“I’m doing great. I’m progressing along. I’ve worked my tail off the whole offseason,” Cine told reporters in Minnesota, speaking to them ahead of voluntary offseason workouts. “I really appreciate the training staff, the dietician (Remi Famodu-Jackson), the strength coaches – everyone in the facility – for helping me get back together to where I am now.”
“From the time that injury happened, being the unique circumstances of being in London, we get Lewis back here and you immediately feel our entire team, locker room, coaching staff, front office and training staff really wrap their arms around Lew,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell added. “I don’t want to speak for him, but I feel like he felt that right away and it really provided him a really unique opportunity to feel at home, feel around his family around this building and progress day-in and day-out.
According to O’Connell, Cine has attacked his rehab. As a result, he’s in great shape, especially for someone less than a year removed from an injury of that extent. Teammates told reporters that they forgot Cine was even injured with how well he was getting around.
“He is here every day working. You can just feel he is hungry. He feels like he’s earned the right through all the work he’s put in,” O’Connell said. “I think he’s feeling pretty strong and feeling like he’s getting back to where he wants to be. Knowing mentally, he never took a day off. We asked him the question, ‘Hey, when you’re ready, we want you all in from a meetings standpoint. Growing your understanding of, not only scheme, but studying offenses and how people run routes and how people try to attack defenses,’ and he jumped all-in on that.”
“It’s a progression. I’m taking it a day at a time. Getting better a day at a time, stronger a day at a time. I’m not trying to look too far ahead … Just be where my feet are,” Cine added. “I’m excited to really be around the guys. The fact that I’m getting to do that – be around the guys, be engaged, talk ball, really lift with them – that means a whole lot to me.”
Cine appeared in three games last season for the Vikings. He was inactive Week 1 before playing Weeks 2, 3 and 4, primarily on special teams with just two defensive snaps. Cine did not record a stat and suffered the injury in the fourth game. He’s hopeful to be back to full speed by the time the season starts this fall.
“The season’s not until, what, late August, September, or something. So it’s doing the right stuff now that allows me, that gets me ready for then,” Cine said. “So I don’t really have to kill myself to be in a race to get there. … I have time ahead of me to prep the right way. Like I said, progression until the training staff feels that I’m ready and my body is giving me the thumbs-up to go. Then I’ll go.”
“My goal is to play, to be ready to play, for the team,” he continued. “That’s why I’m doing everything now to do that. But at the same time, even though my goal is to be ready to play for the season, I’m not going to be … too high on myself, mess anything up or be in a rush.”
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