Torn my lateral meniscus, had it repaired, tore it again, repaired again.
As justhrowit alluded to, cutting out the meniscus is a far easier process than repairing it. I was back on the field within a month, and that was being cautious.
To work legs before the surgery, deadlifts are a good option, as there is less knee flexion involved. You could also try widening out your stance PL style, as this takes some stress off the knees and puts it on the hips. I found I could squat like this with the injury, but full deep squats were very painful.
Though I didn't do them at the time, I would think box squats would be suitable, as you can sit back and keep your knee angle greater than 90 degrees.
Is there anything unusual about your knee alignment? I'm fairly knock-kneed, and this contributed to the problem, as there was more load on the lateral meniscus. After the second time, I got an "unloader" brace to change the alignment of the knee. This proved helpful for football and any other running. Don't know how applicable that is to your situation, but it's something to think about.