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NOTEBOOK: Newman Played Pivotal Role in Bridgewater's Recovery

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Whether it was family, friends or teammates, Stefon Diggs has had numerous people in his corner during his 13-plus month recovery from a severe leg injury suffered in August of 2016.

And when the Vikings quarterback met with the media for the first time during the season, he mentioned the appreciation and support he's received.

But he also pinpointed a teammate — the eldest statesman on the Vikings roster — for seemingly going above and beyond to help him return to the practice field Wednesday afternoon.

"I don't want to single anyone out, but I'm going to — Trae Waynes. He's awesome. There's a reason he's played in this league for so long," Bridgewater said. "He mentored me throughout this process, he always kept me smiling. There would be days I would come in, and I probably wouldn't be too enthused about it, and he would come in and say, 'Hey, where's that smile? I want to see that smile.'

"And I guess I'm just known to smile a lot. He would bring it out of me, he'd always want the best out of me ... out of a lot of guys on this team," Bridgewater added. "He's a captain."

The 39-year-old Newman, now in his 15th season out of Kansas State, talked to after Thursday's practice and downplayed his role in Bridgewater's rehab process.

Newman said that if he went in the training room and could sense Bridgewater was having a down day, he'd walk out and go back in right away, a signal to the quarterback that he needed to be more upbeat.

"Teddy did all the work himself. All I did was encourage him," Newman said. "Since the day I met him, he's had nothing but energy, so if I walked into the training room and I felt like he didn't have energy, I'd walk out of the training room, and we'd start over. I didn't have to say anything to him; he knew what I was saying.

"He'll tell you, if I walked in and he had a mean look on his face, I'd walk out and walk back in, and I promise you he's smiling," Newman later added. "He'd just shake his head and say, 'What's up T-New?' We have a little deal when I'd come in [the training room]. And I did some little drills with him out here, just trying to be the guy that encouraged him … because that confidence is what helps build you into being back."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he wasn't surprised by Newman's commitment to his teammates. 

"That's how Terence is," said Zimmer, who is on his ninth season coaching Newman in the NFL. "He's got no ego, he wants to help everybody. That's just the kind of kid he is."

Bridgewater was cleared to practice Monday and practiced with his teammates Wednesday and Thursday.

Newman, a first-round pick in 2003, said he had an unofficial countdown of sorts going until Bridgewater reached a mini milestone and hit the practice field.

"Last week I was talking about days until 'The Return.' 10 days, eight days, whatever," Newman said. "And then Monday, I was like this is 'The Week.'

"To me, it's good to have him back, man," Newman added. "He's worked his butt off, and he put a lot of work into getting back. He's looking good and having fun … it's good for everybody for him to be back." 

Including Newman, who did more than his share to be by Bridgewater's side along the way.

"There were days where I knew he was grinding, and it was tough on him," Newman said. "Those days, that's when you really need somebody that you know is in your corner.

"I just tried to let him know that, 'Yo, we're here with you. We have your back.' I wasn't going to let him be in a down mood or whatever," Newman added. "I was going to make sure he had the attitude that he's always had."

Diggs: Sunday's status is up in the air

Stefon Diggs said Thursday that his status for Sunday's game against Baltimore is up "in the air."

The Vikings wide receiver missed this past Sunday's win over Green Bay with a groin injury.

Diggs said he's doing more and more each day with the hopes of returning to action, adding that he's trying to keep a positive mindset.

"I try not to let myself get too down. Some of the stuff, I can't control. I try to do everything I can," Diggs said. "I control what I can control. If there's something in my power, I do what I can. You'll see me out there soon.

"I love football. I love what I do," Diggs later added. "I miss my teammates more importantly. I miss being out there with them."

Diggs missed three games with a groin injury during the 2016 season. 

"I would say last year was a different situation," Diggs said. "It's different muscles than were hurt last year. Last year was a lot more severe, too."

The former fifth-round pick has 23 receptions for 395 yards and a team-high four touchdowns in 2017.

Dialing it back a bit

Laquon Treadwell has never lacked work ethic. It's a trait that helped make him a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

But the Vikings wide receiver may sometimes work a little too hard, something Zimmer alluded to Thursday afternoon after practice. 

"The thing is with Laquon, he wants to overdo things all of the time," Zimmer said. "We might leave, and he might come out here and run routes for an hour tonight, so that's what we have to get him to understand.

"It's a long season, do your work, but he constantly is talking about, 'I need to get better. I need to get better.' Whatever it is, he's always trying to do more, sometimes to a fault," Zimmer added. "That's the good part about him. He wants to get better and continue to improve. I think he's improving, he's catching the ball good. His route depths are much better."

Treadwell has eight catches for 93 yards this season, but is coming off his best game as a pro after hauling in three grabs, included a one-handed snag, for 51 yards against the Packers.

Diggs said he has no doubt Treadwell will seize his opportunity when it comes to him.

"I would just say a hardworking man, as far as being young," Diggs said about Treadwell. "I've been in similar shoes, and to see him take it in stride, not only as a player, but as a friend and teammate, him just staying at the grind.

"We live in a world of opportunity, and when his opportunity comes, he's going to work to make the play. I know him well enough," Diggs added. "He wants it bad enough, so he fits right in with the great group of guys we have in that room. Everybody's just doing their job."

View practice photos from the Vikings Thursday, October 19th practice at Winter Park.

Injury reports

For the Vikings: Adam Thielen (hamstring), Diggs (groin), Nick Easton (calf) and Kyle Rudolph (knee) did not participate.

Anthony Barr (concussion/ankle), Mackensie Alexander (hip) and Tramaine Brock (hamstring) were limited. Xavier Rhodes (shoulder), Andrew Sendejo (groin) Emmanuel Lamur (ribs), Jerick McKinnon (ankle) and Treadwell (toe) were full participants. 

For the Ravens: Breshad Perriman (concussion), Matt Skura (knee), Jimmy Smith (Achilles), Mike Wallace (back), Benjamin Watson (knee), Lardarius Webb (knee), Terrance West (calf), Maxx Williams (ankle) and Tim Williams (thigh) did not participate.

Anthony Levine (thigh), Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Chris Matthews (thigh) were limited. Carl Davis (thigh), Jaylen Hill (thigh), Ronnie Stanley (mouth) and Brandon Williams (foot) were full participants.

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