Mike Hughes said he sprinted through six weeks of his NFL rookie season but now is learning to walk again.
Hughes, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 14 against Arizona, spoke with reporters Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery by Vikings team physician Dr. Chris Larson, who also operated on Adrian Peterson’s knee in 2016.
“I felt like I was just getting warmed up,” Hughes said. “I wanted to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. So, my goal next year is to win Comeback Player of the Year.”
Through the grueling part of his ACL rehabilitation, Hughes said he’s leaned on Dalvin Cook. The running back’s own rookie season ended Oct. 1, 2017, which could give Hughes a similar timeline.
Hughes said he doesn’t know when he’ll be fully healthy, but Cook’s left knee was ready for limited work this spring before he was let loose in training camp in August.
With a bulky brace on his left knee, Hughes said he is only three weeks into walking again.
“I couldn’t walk for six weeks,” Hughes said. “It was probably the roughest six weeks of my life. I wouldn’t wish that injury on anybody. But it’s a common injury and guys are bouncing back pretty well.”
Cook did, gaining 95 yards from scrimmage against the 49ers in his first game back this season.
“The week I tore it, [Cook] was in the training room with me all week,” Hughes said. “He’s been giving me some pointers, some things he struggled with. I’ve been taking those things in stride and try to be a step ahead of what he was able to do.”
Hughes said he’ll stay in Eagan this offseason and rehab at TCO Performance Center.
“I’m still only 21 years old,” Hughes said. “I’m excited to see how this facility, this franchise can help my future. I’m just ready to get back on the field.”