EDEN PRAIRIE -- Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Lewis Kelly practiced with the team Monday for the first time since his wife died of a rare blood disorder.
Rakiva Kelly, who was four months pregnant when she died on Aug. 25, had a preexisting condition called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which can be exacerbated by pregnancy and is characterized by low blood platelets and a low red blood cell count.
"Coming back to the house and sleeping in the bed was rough," Kelly said.
Several Vikings players attended a service in the Twin Cities last Tuesday. Head coach Mike Tice traveled to Pontiac, Mich., to attend the funeral after the Vikings played their final preseason game at Pittsburgh.
Kelly returned to Winter Park after getting some encouragement from his family.
"This morning it was rough. I wanted to leave and go home and say, 'This was a mistake, it's too early."'
"I'm a professional," Kelly said. "I made a commitment to the Vikings and as a man, I have to live up to that."
In training camp, Kelly assumed the starting job at left tackle during rookie Bryant McKinnie's holdout.
Tice said Kelly performed well his first day back. The third-year player who spent some time in NFL Europe this year could play in the regular-season opener at Chicago this week.
"He was very focused, trying to bury himself in the work," Tice said.
Kelly admits he didn't feel aggressive during practice, saying it felt like he was "moving in slow motion." But he expects to be in the lineup Sunday and his teammates are helping him cope with the loss.
"I think it did him some good to get on the field," offensive lineman Chris Liwienski said. "We're happy to have him on the field. We're counting on him."
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