Well, the Vikings Latest Injury Update Is Really Somethin’

On the same day that Adam Thielen was reported to likely be leaving the team, Za’Darius Smith tweeted a farewell, and trade rumors involving Dalvin Cook bubbled to the surface, the Minnesota Vikings updated fans with a wonderfully promising injury update.

Brian O’Neill partially tore his Achilles’ tendon down the stretch of the 2022 season, Lewis Cine broke his leg in Week 4, and Andrew Booth injured his meniscus in between. Fast forward to March, and the recovery prognosis for all three doesn’t seem grim.

Well, the Vikings Latest Injury Update Is Really Somethin’

The Pioneer PressChris Tomasson tweeted Thursday, “Vikings provided updates today on injured players. Tackle Brian O’Neill (torn Achilles) is expected to be ready for training camp. Safety Lewis Cine (fractured lower leg) could do some work in OTAs in late May. CB Andrew Booth (knee) is likely limited in spring.”

the Vikings Latest
Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson defensive back Andrew Booth (DB04) talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell said about O’Neill, “He’s already out of his boot — I saw yesterday — and progressing in rehab. We’re expecting Brian to be ready to go — we’ll be smart with him early on in camp; he’s played a lot of football, we know, and Year 2 in the offense is a huge benefit versus Year 1 where those guys are kind of learning a little bit more about how we operate.”

And that’s gigantic news because Achilles’ injuries can take longer than others to heal, especially in sports. Kevin Durant can tell you all about it. If the Vikings want to contend for a Super Bowl in 2023, they’ll need a healthy O’Neill, not a patchwork right tackle solution.

Significant Week 18
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell continued, this time about Lewis Cine, “I’m just so proud of where he’s at and his desire to be in this building every day doing the things we’re asking him to do and going beyond that. He’s been fantastic, and he’s progressing. There’s hope that he could potentially be part of our OTAs.”

Cine should have a special spot in Brian Flores’ defense, a system built upon speed and aggression. The Georgia safety was drafted for precisely that — speed and aggression — and as an eventual replacement plan for veteran Harrison Smith, who turned 34 last month.

Lewis Cine Pitched a Shutout vs. Lions. And Not in a Good Way.
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) warms up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Finally, O’Connell mentioned Andrew Booth, too, “Booth will probably be limited in OTAs but ready for training camp, so hopefully everything we’re trying to do is building toward getting those guys on the progression that we like to do through the reps of OTAs to have them in peak shape leaving here and then understanding we’ll have the ramp-up period early in training camp, and then we build up to that opener.”

Booth is the only player of the three who doesn’t necessarily have a starter’s assignment in 2023. He’ll have to earn it, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. Minnesota has Cameron Dantzler and Akayleb Evans under contract, could re-sign Patrick Peterson or Duke Shelley, may be players in free agency next week, and the NFL draft is seven weeks. The 2023 CB room is in flux.

On the whole, though, the injury update from Thursday was overwhelmingly encouraging on a day with otherwise topsy-turvy news.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.