Yesterday, presumed starter at middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley declared himself "ready to go" for Vikings training camp and the season while at Camp 54—a football camp held for 180 children in Thomson, Georgia:
The Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker is fully recovered from a hip injury he suffered before the 2011 season. In June, he missed the team's mini camp with a groin injury, an ailment he said the press blew out of proportion.
"I just had a little strain," he said. "You know how the media is."
His declaration is somewhat at odds with how the Vikings staff have indicated they feel; Brinkley's surgically repaired hip and strained groin has been a concern for coaches and Spielman:
"There's some concern there, definitely, because of the durability," general manager Rick Spielman told 1500 ESPN on Sunday morning.
"I know what we saw when he came in as a rookie and when he came in and filled in for E.J. and the potential we saw there. He's a big banger, physical inside middle linebacker that probably doesn't get enough credit for his athletic skill set as well. ...
"But again, the durability is a question right now, just because he hasn't played in a year and hasn't played much at all hardly through this offseason."
The coaches have insisted on taking a conservative approach for training camps, and held him out of practices for the last week of minicamp. While he's projected to be completely fine for minicamps, lingering concern about both of his injuries are big issues.
After minicamp, Brinkley stayed in the Twin Cities to complete treatment of the groin strain and finished a 5 week rehab program for his hip.
Brinkley started six games for the Vikings in 2009 as a rookie, played in 18 snaps in 2010 and missed all of 2011 due to hip surgery. He is penciled in as starting middle linebacker for the Vikings in the coming 2012 season—a position of critical importance for the Vikings' Tampa-2 defense.