Rookie linebacker Michael Mauti returns from injury to do what he loves
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings rookie linebacker Michael Mauti loves football, which was evident months ago when he sent a personal letter to all 32 NFL teams before the draft stating his passion for the game and his drive to return off yet another ACL injury.
So it's no surprise that Mauti's stomach was free of butterflies when he put on pads for the first time since his third ACL tear on Nov. 17.
"This is what I love to do," Mauti said after Wednesday's practice. "This is why I'm here. Football is fun, this is not nervous."
A standout at Penn State, Mauti racked up 92 tackles in 10 games before re-injuring his knee and falling into the Vikings' lap in the seventh round of April's draft.
Mauti said he's recruited the help of former Nittany Lion-turned-Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who also tore his ACL in his junior year at Penn State in 2008.
"I talk to Sean a lot," Mauti said. "He's helped me through so much, going through some injuries and going through some of the same things. He has a wealth of knowledge to learn from."
Mauti still wears a brace on his left knee, but said he doesn't even think about the injury or the potential of bad luck striking a fourth time.
"I'm getting more confident each day," Mauti said. "Knocking the rust off to begin with, make sure my feet are under me and getting my reads right. Now it's not an issue, not thinking about it when I'm on the field."
Vikings' veteran linebacker Chad Greenway agreed that Mauti isn't hindered by the knee injury and that he's not the typical seventh-round pick.
"He's certainly got a ton of potential," Greenway said. "You certainly can't count him out, one of those guys you want to rout for."