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Vikings’ Andrew Booth has knee surgery, return this season uncertain

The rookie cornerback had surgery to repair a meniscus on Monday.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) straight arms Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) after making a catch Nov. 13, 2022, at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) straight arms Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) after making a catch Nov. 13, 2022, at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. On Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, Booth had surgery and could miss the rest of the season.
Gregory Fisher / USA Today Sports
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EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings’ top draft pick already has been ruled out for the season due to an injury. Now their second selection also could be done for the year.

Cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. underwent surgery Monday to repair a meniscus injury. Head coach Kevin O’Connell said shortly after the procedure that he was still getting information on the severity of the rookie’s knee injury but acknowledged it is “more than likely” he will go on injured reserve.

“It’s either going to be something that potentially ends his season or something that we’re looking to hopefully have him back at some point in January,” O’Connell said.

The Vikings lost safety Lewis Cine, taken with the No. 32 pick in the first round out of Georgia, for the season after he suffered a compound fracture in his lower left leg Oct. 2 against New Orleans. Booth was selected in the second round with the No. 42 pick from Clemson.

Cine said Booth has provided great support in his rehab. He now plans to do the same for Booth.

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“It’s real unfortunate,’’ Cine said. “I texted him. I’m rooting for him. I know Booth is a strong guy. He’s a fighter, so he’s going to attack rehab the same way I’m doing.”

Booth has been hampered by injuries since joining the Vikings. He missed time in spring drills with a groin injury after having surgery before the draft. He missed time in the preseason after hurting his ankle. And he sat out four games after suffering a quad injury in the regular-season opener against Green Bay.

vikings-mugs-andrew-booth-2022.jpeg
Andrew Booth Jr.

Due to injuries, Booth started against Dallas on Nov. 20, but O’Connell said his knee was sore after that game. He got multiple opinions from doctors, and a decision was made for him to have the surgery.

“You really don’t know going in whether it’s going to be a repair or potentially something small enough to just clean up and hopefully have him available,” O’Connell said.

Booth could go on injured reserve Tuesday and the Vikings could activate tight end Ben Ellefson off injured reserve. Ellefson, who has missed the past seven games with a groin issue, was designated for return from injured reserve on Nov. 9, and his 21-day clock is about to run out for him to be activated or kept on injured reserve the rest of the season.

Because of injuries, the Vikings have started four different players at right cornerback in the past four games in Cameron Dantzler, rookie Akayleb Evans, Booth and Duke Shelley. O’Connell said Dantzler, who was the regular starter before going on injured reserve with a high left ankle sprain, will likely be activated next week after missing the minimum of four games.

Dantzler, who was hurt Nov. 6 at Washington, said earlier this month he expected to miss just four games and would return Dec. 11 at Detroit. He reiterated that Monday.

“Absolutely,’’ Dantzler said. “The training staff has done a wonderful job maintaining everything and I’m right on target to return for Detroit. It’s healing great.’’

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It remains to be seen, though, who will start at right cornerback for the Vikings (9-2) Sunday against the New York Jets (7-4) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Evans, a fourth-round pick who started Nov. 13 at Buffalo, suffered a concussion against the Bills and has missed the past two games. He was limited in practice Monday while wearing a red no-contact jersey and remains in the concussion protocol.

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“We’re hoping to have Akayleb get some great work (this week) in practice and feel confident to get him back,’’ O’Connell said.

If Evans doesn’t start against the Jets, Shelley would get the nod. In the 33-30 win over the Bills, he broke up a key pass in the end zone in overtime. And starting in last Thursday’s 33-26 home win over New England, he had a key pass breakup in the end zone late in the first half.

“I’m staying ready,’’ Shelley said. “I prepare every week like I’m a starter even if I’m not starting because you never know when your number is going to be called.”

Dantzler said Shelley went “two for two” in the end zone in November. He said he’s been impressed with how Shelley and other cornerbacks have done since he was hurt against Washington.

“I’m not surprised,” Dantzler said. “I knew we had a lot of ammo at the cornerback position. When I went down, I wasn’t worried.”

Neither was Vikings left cornerback Patrick Peterson, who has started all 11 games this season.

“They’ve been holding down the fort for us until (Dantzler) gets back in the lineup,’’ Peterson said of the reserves.

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As for Booth, Peterson was frustrated to see him get hurt after playing in just six games.

“It’s just tough to see that young man go down like that and not really have an opportunity to get his feet wet under him,’’ Peterson said. “But I know that he belongs in this league, and when he comes back, he’s going to get his opportunity.”

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