The Minnesota Vikings have lost safety Lewis Cine for the season, tight end Irv Smith for multiple weeks, and more injury misfortunes are on the way.
Rookie cornerback Andrew Booth will undergo knee surgery this week, leaving his rest-of-season status in doubt.
The Vikings traded up in the 2022 NFL Draft to grab Booth in Round 2 after the Clemson alumnus fell out of the 1st Round due to injury concerns.
Fast forward eight months and the Vikings are dealing with injuries to Booth, whose rookie resume has 68 defensive snaps in six games. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted about Booth on Monday, “Vikings second-round CB Andrew Booth is having knee surgery today, sources say, with the decision to be made during surgery on which procedure is necessary.”
Rapoport added, “There is a chance Booth will miss the rest of the season, but that won’t be evident until post-surgery.”
And while the surgery could be a resounding success resulting in Booth’s return, this kind of tweet from Rapoport is usually a team’s segue to putting a player on the shelf. Whether intentional or not, season-ending injuries tend to be slow-walked to eventuality.
The Booth injury news is disappointing because the Vikings are already navigating life without Cameron Dantzler, who suffered an ankle injury against the Washington Commanders in Week 9. He isn’t eligible to return until Week 14, and even then, his immediate return to the field isn’t guaranteed. After that, 4th-Round rookie Akayleb Evans was concussed in Week 10 and missed two games thereafter. Evans is trending to return this weekend, but folks aren’t quite sure if he’s a sure-fire starting cornerback.
The possibility of no Booth the rest of the way also complicates the Vikings 2023 draft plans. The remainder of the 2022 season was supposed to determine Booth’s trajectory. Can he become a starter in the NFL, on track for such an assignment in 2023? Well, nobody knows. He didn’t flourish on defense amid his limited rookie sample size, but a clearer verdict would’ve been evident if not for the injury. If Booth is not classified as a long-term starter beginning in 2023, Minnesota may need to draft another CB with high draft capital in April.
Thankfully, the Vikings have a 9-2 cushion to figure out CB plans for the playoff grind. Patrick Peterson, the oldest Vikings corner, has been healthy for the whole season, and fans must vehemently pray that stays intact. With Booth potentially out, Dantzler must return to full health before the postseason, Evans must shine as a rookie — or both.
The Vikings defense ranks 32nd in the NFL per passing yards allowed through 12 weeks.
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 Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).