Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday that cornerback Mike Hughes is making strong progress about six months removed from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“He’s a little ahead of schedule, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Spielman said. “But I know he’s been here all offseason working extremely hard at it. I know he’s anxious to get back on the field.”
A video surfaced Tuesday on social media of Hughes running in the end zone of the Vikings’ indoor practice field in Eagan, where he has conducted his rehab throughout the spring. He was wearing a brace on his surgically repaired left knee. Hughes, 22, was injured six games into a promising rookie season that saw him earn rare early playing time under coach Mike Zimmer after being taken with the 30th overall pick a year ago.
Hughes’ rehab will be a key factor in the Vikings’ cornerback picture. Two starters, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, enter contract years, while another reserve, Holton Hill, will serve a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. A quick return from Hughes could answer short-term and long-term questions.
“We’re excited about where he’s at this point in his rehab right now,” Spielman said.
Spielman often maneuvers the Vikings around the NFL draft through draft-day trades, typically to stockpile more picks to reach a goal of 10. The Vikings currently possess eight picks entering this year’s draft, and Spielman lauded the depth at offensive and defensive line positions.
The Vikings have made at least two draft-day trades every year since 2012, when Spielman became the general manager. None have involved a first-round pick since 2014, when the Vikings jumped back into the 32nd spot for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Could the Vikings trade back from No. 18 on Thursday night?
“Depends on the position [available],” Spielman said. “There’s some really good depth at certain positions, but we may not need depth there. You kind of go in with the mind-set of just going and getting the best players in this draft and it will sort itself out.”
Offense to suit Cousins
Spielman reiterated the Vikings’ belief that a new offensive system under coordinator Kevin Stefanski and assistant head coach Gary Kubiak will coax better play out of quarterback Kirk Cousins during his second season in Minnesota. The Vikings offense is expected to embrace an under-center passing game leaning on play-action throws with an outside-zone rushing attack. It’s similar to what Cousins learned under Mike Shanahan with Washington.
“I know, especially with Gary Kubiak coming in and Kevin Stefanski taking over the offense, we’re really homing in on what Kirk Cousins does best as a quarterback, [and] what we can do to help him,” Spielman said.
Start time moved
Check your schedules, because the kickoff time has been moved up a half-hour for the Vikings’ Aug. 29 preseason finale in Buffalo. The final exhibition will begin at 6 p.m. against the Bills, the team announced.