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Lewis Cine 'Doing Great'; Combining Drive + Discipline in Recovery Progression

EAGAN, Minn. – Lewis Cine knows recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

But he's already "doing a good amount" of full-speed running, so the second-year safety is feeling positive about his rehab journey thus far.

Monday marked the start of the Vikings voluntary offseason program, and Cine spoke to media members at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

View photos of Vikings S Lewis Cine during one of his offseason workouts. Cine has been rehabbing and recovering from an injury sustained during the 2022 season.

"I'm doing great. I'm progressing along. I've worked my tail off the whole offseason," he said. "I really appreciate the training staff, the dietician (Remi Famodu-Jackson), the strength coaches – everyone in the facility – for helping me get back together to where I am now."

Cine, whom the Vikings drafted 32nd overall last spring, played just two defensive snaps before his debut season was cut short.

After being inactive Week 1 last season, Cine played mainly on special teams in Weeks 2 and 3 and then again in Week 4, when Minnesota faced New Orleans in London. During the international game, he suffered a broken leg that required him to stay behind in London and undergo surgery while the Vikings returned to the States.

Cine celebrated his 23rd birthday from a London hospital bed, receiving a special call during a team meeting.

The genuine support from teammates, coaches and the Vikings training staff only increased when Cine was able to travel back to Minnesota, and it hasn't wavered since.

"From the time that injury happened, being the unique circumstances of being in London, we get Lewis back here and you immediately feel our entire team, locker room, coaching staff, front office and training staff really wrap their arms around Lew," Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell told media members last week. "I don't want to speak for him, but I feel like he felt that right away and it really provided him a really unique opportunity to feel at home, feel around his family around this building and progress day-in and day-out.

O'Connell said Cine has "attacked" his rehab every single day and that he's in great physical shape.

"He is here every day working. You can just feel he is hungry. He feels like he's earned the right through all the work he's put in," O'Connell said. "I think he's feeling pretty strong and feeling like he's getting back to where he wants to be.

"Knowing mentally, he never took a day off," O'Connell added. "We asked him the question, 'Hey, when you're ready, we want you all in from a meetings standpoint. Growing your understanding of, not only scheme, but studying offenses and how people run routes and how people try to attack defenses,' and he jumped all-in on that."

Cine echoed O'Connell's sentiments, confirming both the physical and mental journey he's been on.

"It's a progression. I'm taking it a day at a time," he said. "Getting better a day at a time, stronger a day at a time. I'm not trying to look too far ahead. … Just be where my feet are."

View photos of Vikings players arriving for offseason workouts at the TCO Performance Center.

Cine was all smiles talking about having the majority of his teammates back in the building.

"I'm excited to really be around the guys," he said. "The fact that I'm getting to do that – be around the guys, be engaged, talk ball, really lift with them – that means a whole lot to me."

Cine said he's unable to go "full-load" at this point but is hopeful about being ready for the season.

He's got plenty of time, he reminded.

"The season's not until, what, late August, September, or something. So it's doing the right stuff now that allows me, that gets me ready for then," Cine said. "So I don't really have to kill myself to be in a race to get there. … I have time ahead of me to prep the right way.

"Like I said, progression until the training staff feels that I'm ready and my body is giving me the thumbs-up to go. Then I'll go," he added.

Cine is anxious to get back on the field, and he's equally excited to work with new Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores.

The player and coach have gotten to know each other on a personal level over the past several weeks, and Cine is now looking forward to a deeper dive into the football side of things.

"He likes to let you loose and let you go and play ball. Play fast. I like to play fast football. I like to just let it loose," Cine said of Flores. "The fact that that's his scheme, that's what he's known for, I'm really excited [about] learning his defense, his scheme, the Xs and Os of football. Picking his mind about the way he operates and how he wants me to play."

There's no denying Cine's enthusiasm and drive to get back.

But he pointed out that determination without discipline isn't enough. And ever since going down against the Saints, he's made sure to have both.

"It all started with mindset," Cine said. "What's my mindset going into rehab? Am I looking in the mirror [having] pity on myself, like, 'Why me?' Or am I really looking in the mirror and telling myself, 'Let me go attack the day'?

"Rehab is a grueling process. Sometimes it sucks," he added. "So motivation is not enough. It's about self-discipline. About being OK with just getting a little bit better day-in and day-out."

After doing exactly that for the past six months, along with spending quality family time and binge-watching lots of anime, Cine is in a good place.

"My goal is to play, to be ready to play, for the team," Cine said. "That's why I'm doing everything now to do that. But at the same time, even though my goal is to be ready to play for the season, I'm not going to be … too high on myself, mess anything up or be in a rush."


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