Football / Sports

Vikings' Joseph expects to be ready for opener after recovering from gunshot wound

Linval Joseph counted his blessings behind closed doors while recovering from a gunshot wound after a bullet sliced through his calf during a shooting at a downtown Minneapolis nightclub on Aug. 9.

Tuesday, the day after he was first spotted running sprints outside at Winter Park as his Vikings teammates practiced, Joseph finally broke his silence.

"It was very scary," the big nose tackle said. "Now, I just look at every day differently because your life flashes in front of you in the situation that happened. I'm just glad I have the opportunity to do what I love."

Joseph and several teammates were seated at a private table in the back of the 400 Soundbar nightclub hours after the team's victory over the Oakland Raiders in the preseason opener when a gunman opened fire in the front of the club, hitting nine patrons, including Joseph. Two victims suffered major injuries, but everyone survived.

After dropping to the floor to protect himself, he realized a bullet hit his left calf.

"I just thank God for it just being a clean wound -- straight in, straight out -- and it's behind me now," Joseph said. "I'm glad I'm healthy and I can help this team."

While Joseph has yet to practice in pads with his teammates, he maintained Tuesday that he expects to be ready by the Sept. 7 season opener. He won't play in Thursday night's preseason finale, but he said he might have pushed to play if it were a regular-season game.

"Next week, I'm full go," Joseph said. "I'm ready to go."

Joseph, who reported back to training camp in Mankato the day of the shooting, rehabbed his injury and attended team meetings while the Vikings wrapped up camp. Over the past week, his activity has picked up to include conditioning work and some individual drills.

"I got out on the grass 1/8Monday3/8 and did a lot more aggressive conditioning and drills and stuff, and I feel good," Joseph said before Tuesday's practice, during which he was a nonparticipant.

Joseph thanked his family, friends and teammates for helping him get through his harrowing ordeal and the Vikings' medical staff for aiding him in his recovery.

"And for the all the victims and everybody who was involved, who was seriously injured, I wish them a speedy recovery as well," he said. "You just never wish for anything like that to happen to anybody."

Joseph, who acknowledged "it could have been really worse than what it was," is thankful that he is still able to chase his dreams on and off the field.

"I'm 25 years old and I feel like I have a lot more to accomplish with my job and just in my life," he said. "I'm just glad I've got an opportunity to do that."

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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