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Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels Supporting Lewis Cine Years After Overcoming 'Same Exact Injury'

EAGAN, Minn. — Like Lewis Cine, Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels played safety in college.

Also similar to his rookie safety, Daniels spent his early days in the NFL on the sidelines after a season-ending injury.

Cine suffered a compound leg fracture while working on Minnesota's punt return team late in the first quarter of the Vikings 28-25 victory against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in London. Cine underwent successful surgery on Tuesday in London and will remain there until he is cleared to return to Minnesota.

Daniels tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams during a 2012 game against the New England Patriots, also in London.

The next season, Daniels suffered "that same exact injury" as Cine. Daniels spoke with Cine on Wednesday, offering his support.

"I just shared my experience with him," Daniels said Thursday to Twin Cities reporters. "I understand what he's going through, that trauma."

Daniels said his road to recovery was a difficult one at first.

"You have to find a way to not get down and ask yourself, 'Why me? Why me?' " Daniels said. "I think that's where I found myself trying to figure out why this was happening to me after a college career where I was pretty clean, no injuries. Then I come into this league, and it's back-to-back years I end up having season-ending injuries."

Daniels noted the biggest aid during his rehab was his mental approach, as well as support from those around him.

"I leaned heavily on family, teammates. They picked me up," Daniels said. "They provided me with the support that I needed mentally in order to help me get through it, and that's going to be the biggest challenge for Lew, the mental aspect and not asking himself why is this happening to me."

Daniels is in his first season with the Vikings coaching staff after spending the past two years with the Dallas Cowboys as assistant special teams coach.

Prior to his stint in Dallas, Daniels spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 and 2019 in the same role.

As a player, Daniels signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent before playing for Jacksonville and San Diego in 2014 and 2015 on the practice squad.

Daniels, along with Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and the rest of the team, also sang “Happy Birthday to Cine, who turned 23 on Wednesday.

Daniels said he's confident Cine will come back even stronger.

"I know the way he's built, the majority of the rehab process is more mental than a physical aspect, so we just have to make sure we do a good job as a coaching staff of loving him up," Daniels said. "Providing him with that support that he needs. I'm excited to get Lew back. … He was all smiles and really in good spirits. I'm really encouraged by that."