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Kevin O'Connell: Lewis Cine 'In Great Spirits' During Return to TCO

EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said Monday that safety Lewis Cine returned to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center eight days after suffering a compound fracture in his leg.

O'Connell added running back Ty Chandler could miss significant time after fracturing his thumb Sunday, and cornerback Akayleb Evans is in the concussion protocol.

Cine underwent successful surgery last Tuesday in London after staying behind to repair the injury he suffered during the Vikings victory against the New Orleans Saints in Week 4.

"It was awesome to see [Cine] down with our guys in the training room, and he's in great spirits. He looks great, and I cannot say enough about the care that he received," O'Connell said to Twin Cities reporters. "A tip of the cap to our medical team and medical staff that stayed back with him and then obviously the transition to get him back here in our building was bigtime, and it was great to see him."

O'Connell added Cine will continue his post-procedure progression before he begins active treatment and recovery.

O'Connell said Chandler's roster status will depend on the severity of his injury.

"He's still consulting with [Executive Director of Player Health and Performance] Tyler [Williams] and Head Athletic Trainer Uriah [Myrie] and some doctors on the best course of action, but more than likely he's going to be down weeks, whatever it ends up being," O'Connell said.

Defensively, O'Connell said Evans is doing well. He added the team will be sure to follow the NFL concussion protocol.

Here are two additional takeaways from O'Connell's availability on Monday:

Breaking through for success on third downs

After struggling to convert third downs through the first four weeks of the season (15-for-48, 31.3 percent), the Vikings flipped the script on Sunday against Chicago. Minnesota converted on 12 of its 15 third downs, joining the Kansas City Chiefs (Week 4 at Tampa Bay) as the only teams to have success on at least 12 third downs in a game.

"For one, if we can stay out of third down, that's a beautiful thing," running back Alexander Mattison said. "But understanding when third down comes around, if we're in a third-down-and-manageable situation, then that's better for us because it opens the playbook to where we can do a lot of different things, whether it's in the run or the pass or the screen game to go and get that first down."

On the Vikings final offensive drive against the Bears, Minnesota converted five third downs, including a third-and-8 from the Chicago 13-yard line where quarterback Kirk Cousins found Mattison for an 11-yard gain with 2:39 left. Three plays later, Cousins executed a 1-yard sneak for the go-ahead touchdown.

"I saw the matchup that I had. Given the play and the route that I had, I knew that I was probably going to be the one to get the ball," Mattison said on his conversion. "So, I tried to push my depth a little bit, and Kirk just put the ball in a perfect place for me to kind of turn and get vertical and get the first down and put ourselves in position to go down there and score."

View the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" following the comeback win over the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 9.

Keep on developing and building goals

From the moment he stepped foot into the organization, O'Connell has made development of his players a priority. And even though he's gotten pulled away personally from that development a little bit during the regular season, players are working with the coaching staff every day on their goals, both short-term and long-term.

"We want to make sure that these guys never waste a moment in this building. And that's everybody on our roster, that's everybody on our practice squad," O'Connell said. "We've got clear-cut developmental plans for players that we're going to rely on here in the short term, the guys that we really see long-term fits for us. The urgency level is the same for both groups of players because you just never know when your number's going to be called and when you've got to step in there and help us win a football game."

View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings 29-22 win over the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 9.

O'Connell added: "Post-practice work, extra meetings, using all the resources that we have in our great building here to make sure that we're constantly focusing on game plans and the focus on winning and beating the opponent that we're challenged to play against every week. But also, understanding that there's another layer of that development that's always taking place as a team, as a position group and on an individual basis with each and every player on our roster."