EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings defensive end Tashawn Bower, who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon in March, said Tuesday, Aug. 13, he is ahead of schedule in his recovery and optimistic he will play at some point this season.
Bower suffered the injury while working out in Houston. He missed all of spring drills and began training camp on the non-football injury list.
“I was coming out of a break and it just kind of tore on me,’’ Bower said. “It sucks. … That’s definitely the plan (to return this season). You want to get back as soon as possible, but with this you can’t rush this one. I definitely want to get back this season. I think I have a lot to show and a lot to prove.’’
After getting into two games as an undrafted rookie in 2017, Bower played in five last year. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has said he was having a good offseason until getting hurt.
“The progress we’ve made (in rehabilitation) is a lot, and I think I’m ahead of schedule,’’ said Bower, who didn’t want to speculate on the earliest he could play this season. “But we’re going to keep it where we should and not try to overdo it. It’s a serious injury, so we’re going to treat it like that.’’
Because Bower was hurt in a non-NFL activity, the Vikings don’t have to pay him. But Zimmer has said Bower, on the books to make $645,000 in 2019, will not be docked any salary.
Bower is expected to remain on the non-football injury list to start the regular season. That would result in being out at least the first six games.
“It’s definitely unfortunate,’’ he said of the injury. “You never want that to happen, but it’s something you kind of sign up for when you agree to play football for a living. Injuries are 100 percent going to happen, some bad, some not so bad. You just kind of play the cards when they’re dealt.’’
Deep linebacker group
Last August, Zimmer lamented about the Vikings lacking depth at linebacker. Plenty has changed since then.
“I think it’s the best group I have had since I’ve been here depth-wise,’’ said Zimmer, entering his sixth season. “There’s a possibility of seven guys, of all them being up on game day.’’
Zimmer mentioned Reshard Cliett, who spent last season on the practice squad, and Eric Wilson as linebackers who have improved. He said rookie Cam Smith is “doing good” although he is “still learning” and “making some young-guy mistakes.’’
The Vikings last season had five linebackers on the initial 53-man roster. If they do keep seven, extra spots would need to come from another position.
“I don’t know if we’re that deep in the secondary, so they might lend itself to that,’’ Zimmer said. “Maybe keep an extra defensive lineman, less in the secondary and maybe keep one less running back. It all will work out (with) how we play.’’
--Vikings quarterbacks threw four interceptions in practice Tuesday. Kirk Cousins was picked off by safety Jayron Kearse, Sean Mannion by Wilson and Jake Browning twice by rookie safety Marcus Epps. Wilson and Epps both had touchdown returns. Zimmer said the interceptions were “a combination of both’’ good defense and poor throws.
--Running back Ameer Abdullah returned to practice after sitting out two days. Eligible players not practicing were tackles Brian O’Neill and Aviante Collins, defensive end Ade Aruna, running back De’Angelo Henderson and cornerback Kris Boyd. Nose tackle Linval Joseph again sat out team drills.
--As a rookie last year, tight end Tyler Conklin had just 13 yards receiving in four preseason games. He wasted no time getting started in the preseason opener last Friday at New Orleans, catching two balls for 56 yards. “It’s definitely nice to get out there and kind of get your feet wet in the preseason and the ball in your hands,’’ said Conklin, who had catches of 34 and 22 yards.