EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said Monday that cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., underwent surgery for a meniscus injury and could potentially miss the rest of the season, but cornerback Akayleb Evans and left tackle Christian Darrisaw are progressing through the concussion protocols.
Booth — the 42nd overall selection from the 2022 NFL Draft — suffered the knee injury after making his first career start against Dallas in Week 11. O'Connell said he was waiting to get the overall results, but it's "more than likely" that Booth will go on Injured Reserve.
"He came out of the Dallas game with some soreness and tried to work through some of that, and then we ended up getting a couple other looks at it, and it was deemed to be a meniscus injury. And as many people know, when you have those, you really don't know until you go 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. "It's either going to be something that potentially ends his season or something that we'd be looking to hopefully have him back at some point in January."
The Vikings have taken a hit in the secondary, with cornerbacks Booth, Cameron Dantzler, Sr., and Evans all battling injuries. Duke Shelley has stepped up in the past three games, including getting two key pass breakups in the end zone at Buffalo and against New England.
O'Connell said it's a next-man-up mentality right now, but he hopes he can provide some more depth at the cornerback position within the next couple of games.
"We've just got to continue to try, whoever we have available, get those guys ready and prepared to compete – and how they fit in with the whole defensive scheme is very important because of rush and coverage working together, all 11," O'Connell said. "We need all 11 guys on our defense, and really our offense and special teams, as well, doing their jobs every single snap. We can't take a snap off. The urgency has got to be sky high."
O'Connell added while Evans and Darrisaw are showing signs of progress for Sunday's game against the New York Jets, both players' health and safety will be the ultimate factor.
Here are two additional takeaways from O'Connell's availability on Monday:
Tomlinson shares details about injury & rehab
For the past month, Vikings nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson has had to watch his teammates take the field without him.
Tomlinson suffered a right calf injury during Minnesota's Week 8 victory against Arizona on Oct. 30 and has missed the past four games.
"It felt like somebody kicked me in the back of the leg," Tomlinson said. "With the calf, a lot of different factors could have caused it, but it pretty much felt like a pop."
While it's certainly been difficult to not suit up on gamedays, Tomlinson said he's still tried to do his part on the sidelines.
"It's always tough watching the game when you want to be out there on the field with your brothers," Tomlinson said. "It was tough, but when I was on the sideline, I just helped out the D-line as much as possible with corrections and things I see. Just give them tips and reminders about different people."
Before his injury, Tomlinson had recorded 20 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and forced and recovered a fumble.
Tomlinson said it was his first injury in his six years of being in the NFL, so he wasn't sure how long he was going to be out. And while he desperately wants to get back onto the field as soon as possible, Tomlinson added he doesn't want to rush things, either.
"I feel like when you want to play football, it's like you're a little kid all over again, you just want to get back out on the field," Tomlinson said. "[But] I feel like with a muscle strain of that nature, you don't want to rush things. And with my position, the calf is a thing you use every single play on double teams and going from run to play-action pass. I just think it's about getting back into the rhythm of things, and I don't want to risk or push it too early before it's ready."
As for his potential availability for Sunday's game against the Jets, Tomlinson said he's still taking things one day at a time.
Vikings aim to 'control what we can control' with NFC North scenarios
The magic number is inching closer to zero for the Vikings and a title in the NFC North division.
Minnesota could clinch at least a share of the division with a victory against the Jets on Sunday. The Vikings could also win the division outright Sunday with a win and a Detroit loss.
But O'Connell's main message to his team? Don't think too far ahead and focus on what's in front of them.
"Can we fight the urge to look big-picture at the scenarios and all those things?" O'Connell said. "If we control what we can control, which is preparing like crazy for another really good football team... I think it's important that we focus on that. One of the main goals for this year for our team was winning our division, and I do believe that our team can focus on the present and the little things and also understand, if we continue to do the things that we're capable of doing and the things we can control, I think both things will take care of themselves."
Linebacker Eric Kendricks said especially after the loss to Dallas, they know things won't be easy.
"We've been humbled, especially recently, so we know we're not invincible," Kendricks said. "We've got to work every day to win in this league and it's not an easy league to win in by any means necessary. We're going to have to do uncommon things to be great."
Kendricks' teammate and fellow linebacker Jordan Hicks added the team has to maintain the same mentality week in and week out.
"It's one game at a time, it's one drive at a time and you're constantly trying to find ways to get better," Hicks said. "You come in on these days and you see the film and you realize there is a lot that we can continue to grow upon. That's the mentality, that's how it has to be, that's how this league is, that's how you win games.
"That's been goal number one since we got in here, was [winning] the division," Hicks continued. "I think as long as we keep the mindset of coming into work every day, grinding, it doesn't matter who's on the other side, it's about us and our standard."