Mike Hughes said he spent his time well while away from the Vikings before arriving to training camp.
Hughes, the Vikings’ top draft pick this spring, fulfilled a promise he’d made to his mother, Tashida Jones, by buying her a new home in his hometown of New Bern, N.C. The sale closed last Friday, just a day after Hughes inked his rookie contract and received a $5.25 million signing bonus.
“It was a dream come true,” Hughes said after Thursday’s practice. “She cried and it hit me. It just felt good. It was something I wanted to do for a long time since I’ve been playing.”
The Vikings rookie cornerback spent most of his vacation time training, studying the playbook and “chilling with family” in the Los Angeles area. Hughes is tasked with learning the slot cornerback position, something he didn’t do much in college. He continued to practice at left cornerback, shifting to the slot in the nickel defense.
Before putting pads on, Hughes said his biggest challenge is the leap from college playbooks to the NFL.
“College they kind of simplify it for you,” Hughes said. “When you get here, I wouldn’t say you’re on your own, but you have to expand your knowledge a little bit more. You have to know what’s going on before the snap.”
Coley returns from heel injury
Receiver Stacy Coley is practicing on a limited basis while easing back in from a right heel injury that ended his spring. Coley, a 2017 seventh-round pick, impressed Vikings coaches while working with Kirk Cousins and the first-team offense during OTAs before his injury.
“It felt good just being out there and competing,” Coley said. “Getting used to Kirk’s voice, hearing the plays — it felt good.”
After rehabbing with fellow south Florida product Dalvin Cook at a local Fort Lauderdale training facility, Coley practiced Thursday with tape still supporting his right heel. He had 10 catches for 165 yards last preseason, and said he’s “getting the feeling back and (getting) used to cutting and planting.”
“I’m real comfortable now,” Coley said. “I’m just ready to go out there and play.”
Downs also returns
Rookie linebacker Devante Downs is another seventh-round pick you shouldn’t overlook. Downs was a tackling machine as Cal’s middle linebacker before a torn ACL, his second, ended his college career. Now he’s back at practice for the first time since October as Vikings begin camp this week.
“I’ve been waiting a while,” Downs said. “Getting out there is better than watching.”
Drafted 225th overall, Downs was the Pac-12’s only two-time Defensive Player of the Week before his midseason injury. He would’ve been drafted earlier if not for concerns over his knees.
“Not some vendetta or anything,” Downs said. “Nothing like that. Just do everything to the best of my abilities and be ready.”
‘Not one or the other’
A day after the Star Tribune reported center Pat Elflein’s offseason shoulder surgery, Elflein addressed the media for the first time since the spring to say he’s still working his way back from both shoulder and ankle injuries. The Vikings’ starting center continued his rehab during Thursday’s practice, which included work with a medicine ball.
“We’re still working back just to get full strength,” Elflein said. “It’s not one or the other.”