Yes, we know. We’ve really spent a lot of time drilling home the reality that the Vikings’ receiving corps is depleted right now. At present, the receivers under contract are Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton. That’s the trio that actually played in a game last season. There’s also Chris Summers, who was on the team’s practice squad.
And that brings us to the one question so many fans are wondering about: What about Greg Childs, a seemingly promising talent who spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve?
You’ll remember Childs was a fourth-round pick a year ago, once a rising star at the University of Arkansas whose college career was derailed in October 2010 when he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee. The recovery time from that injury was slow. Childs returned in 2011 but was highly limited, totaling only 21 catches for 240 yards and zero scores for the enitre season.
But the Vikings saw enough flash, enough potential, enough promise to take a gamble on Childs in last year’s draft. And at times throughout OTAs, mini-camp and training camp, Childs displayed the blend of size, body control and sure hands that justified the Vikings’ hopes.
Said coach Leslie Frazier last August: “His size stands out. To have a big receiver who can run as well as he can and having the catching radius that he has gives you a belief that even when people have decent coverage, because of his size and ability to catch balls in tough spots, he has big-play potential.”
But then came the setback. A major one at that.
In the final minutes of a team scrimmage in training camp, Childs dove for a pass in the end zone and wound up rupturing the patellar tendons in both his left and right knees. It was a major injury and a disheartening setback. The 22-year-old receiver has since attacked his rehabilitation with great effort and positive energy. But the fact remains that a return to full health from injuries that severe registers somewhere between questionable and doubtful. In a league, where every fraction of a second, every little bit of burst matters, Childs has a long road back to even consider being a significant factor as an NFL receiver.
If it took him upwards of 18 months to feel right again after his college knee injury, what’s the realistic timetable of getting him back up to speed with two knees to work on and worry about?
To make a long story short, the Vikings have outside hopes that Childs can still be a part of their plans. But it’s far too early to count on that. And so as they go through the offseason with free agency and the draft, the only sensible way to approach business is with the worst-case scenario in mind: that Childs’ unfortunate injuries will keep him from being a major part of the equation at any point in 2013 or beyond.