After missing last season due to hip surgery, Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley is working his way back into playing shape in 2012. The 27 year old is the next in line after the team decided to not resign E.J. Henderson.
The road to recovery has been anything but easy for him, as he’s found it difficult to readjust to the speed of the game.
“It’s like being a freshman in high school again. Once you’re out for awhile, you lose it quick,” said Brinkley. “No wasted plays for me. It’s about just being able to play fast and not thinking about being hurt.”
Head coach Leslie Frazier says he can see Brinkley starting to regain his prior form:
“You could see him begin to get his legs back from under him. You could see the quickness and the burst that we’ve been wanting to see. We’ll get him quite a few reps hopefully in this San Diego game so he can gain confidence and his teammates can continue to gain confidence in him as well. The preseason is a big deal for him.”
Taking a year off from football, is not going to be easy on anyone, especially when you’re asked to return as a starter for the first time. That would be a lot of pressure for anyone to handle. The speed of an actual NFL game is just something a player cannot replicate in practice, so it’s understandably a difficult process to return…
With Brinkley it’s all about potential, as he’s only recorded 48 total tackles in 2 seasons of work. He’s built to be a middle linebacker at 6’1″, 252 lbs, and the Vikings see what he could be for them. Now it’s just a matter of getting him the playing time, staying healthy, and developing his skills.
If Brinkley is not where the Vikings want him to be going into the season opener, expect Marvin Mitchell to get the nod at middle linebacker. However if healthy, and with the proper progression in the next 2 games, Brinkley should get his shot.