Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., the rookie whose injury-prone past contributed to him falling into the second round of the draft, now will miss the rest of this season following what coach Kevin O'Connell called "successful surgery" to fully repair the meniscus in the knee Booth injured against the Cowboys in his only start of the season.
"We just want to pour into Andrew and make sure he knows he's got all the resources and support in the world in our building to get back and be ready to roll in the springtime," O'Connell said Wednesday.
The decision to fully repair the meniscus rather than doing a less invasive procedure that would have allowed Booth to return this season was made by the team's medical staff, O'Connell said.
"For Andrew's long-term future and his importance to us, we wanted to make sure it was just a pure medical decision," O'Connell said. "I know he was disappointed coming out of surgery, but the positive, bright side is he will be fully healthy and have a full offseason."
Booth struggled with knee and core muscle issues in college, telling reporters after he was drafted that he hadn't been healthy since high school. This was his fourth surgery in the past three years. Ankle injuries caused him to miss parts of training camp, while a quad injury knocked him out of four games earlier this season.
Booth's rookie season ends with six games played, four of them only on special teams, with one start and 105 snaps on defense. First-round draft pick Lewis Cine played only two snaps on defense and 34 on special teams before ankle surgery on a compound fracture ended his season after three games.
Booth's roster spot was taken by tight end Ben Ellefson, who was taken off injured reserve.
Darrisaw still sidelined
The Vikings are taking it slow with left tackle Christian Darrisaw, who suffered concussions in back-to-back games against the Bills and Cowboys, missed the Patriots game and sat out of practice on Wednesday.
"He's still in the [concussion] protocol," O'Connell said. "He's made some strides, but we're going to be smart with him. … I've talked to CD, and we want him feeling great and at full capacity when he comes back. We're not putting any timetable for either this week or beyond. We just want to make sure he's good."
Blake Brandel, who struggled coming in for Darrisaw against the Cowboys but improved in his NFL starting debut against the Patriots, is in line to start against the Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Evans, Tomlinson return
The Vikings did get some good injury news as rookie cornerback Akayleb Evans and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson returned to practice and were full participants.
Evans, who missed the last two games with a concussion, is in the final step of the league-mandated protocol. If he's still symptom-free on Thursday, he will be cleared to play and presumably would step in for Duke Shelley, who was forced into a starting role against the Patriots.
Tomlinson has missed the past four games because of a calf injury.
Safety Harrison Smith (ankle) was limited in practice.
After a stretch of three games in 12 days, the Vikings were back to what O'Connell called a standard week of practice after a "mini bye week." O'Connell had the team back in pads for what he said would be a harder workout.
NFC honor for Nwangwu
Kick returner Kene Nwangwu, who returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the Thanksgiving win over the Patriots, was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. It's the second time he's won the award in his two seasons. He's also the fifth Viking and third special teamer to win player-of-the-week honors this season.
The others: Kicker Greg Joseph, punter Ryan Wright, receiver Justin Jefferson and linebacker Za'Darius Smith, who also won NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October.
Cousins: 'Ignorance is bliss'
Apparently, Kirk Cousins would choose to look away while we mention the following NFC North-clinching scenarios for his squad this Sunday. The Vikings can clinch the division with:
- A win against the Jets and a Lions loss or tie against Chicago. Or …
- A tie and a Lions loss.
Asked if he wanted to know those scenarios, Cousins smiled and said, "For me, I think ignorance is bliss. I just know that we want to go 1-0 this week and really try to simplify my thought process. And I don't need to think about other things. I also don't like to waste energy on things I can't control. What we can control is the way we play on Sunday and our schedule and then try not to worry about too much else."