EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes suffered a torn ACL in Sunday's win against the Cardinals and will miss the remainder of the 2018 season, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer announced Monday.
Hughes, the 30th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, was injured while playing coverage early in the fourth quarter of Minnesota's 27-17 Week 6 victory over Arizona.
The rookie made an immediate impact on the Vikings, taking his first career interception back 28 yards for a touchdown in Week 1. He is one of five defensive players this season with a forced fumble, an interception and a defensive touchdown.
Zimmer said "we feel bad about Mike because I think Mike is going to be a really good football player," and later expanded on how well Hughes had transitioned to the NFL.
"He was learning and continued to learn and has a lot of great attributes — toughness, and his skill set is really good. He's going to come back and be great," Zimmer said. "We have great doctors here and great trainers. [Vikings Vice President of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman] has done an unbelievable job with every one of our guys that has had a torn ACL. We're going to miss him, but we're going to move forward.
Zimmer later added: "For a young guy, he was really professional about everything. Studied hard, asked good questions, never afraid to ask and not afraid to compete."
Hughes started in two of Minnesota's six games so far and had played in 243 of 382 defensive snaps (63.6 percent). That was the second-highest snap count for a Vikings cornerback this season.
The former UCF standout had also contributed on special teams, with four kickoff returns for 107 yards, including a season-best 46-yarder in Week 2 against Green Bay. The 21-year-old had been involved on coverage units, too, and had played exactly half of Minnesota's special teams snaps in 2018.
Hughes' fellow defensive backs said the void left by the rookie will be a big one.
"It's going to be tough for us to deal with. He played a huge role for us in the nickel and on kick return, punt return, so it's going to be tough to deal with," said Vikings safety Jayron Kearse. "But we have to keep going good throughout the season and … keep him in our prayers and be there for him.
"We have to move on, though," Kearse added. "It's a part of the game, and we just have to keep trying to do good."
Added Vikings safety George Iloka: "He's a dynamic player, especially for a rookie, and I think he's going to be special. He's going to be good for a long time. What it does for our secondary, time will tell. But this team has a lot of depth and this is a situation where it needs to show. I believe it will."
Hughes' injury marks the second straight season Minnesota's first rookie drafted has gone down with a torn ACL before the halfway point of the season. Running back Dalvin Cook, a second-round pick in 2017, tore his ACL in Week 4 of the 2017 season. He rehabbed and returned for the 2018 season opener.
Teammates showed their support for Hughes in quiet conversations after the game.
Iloka told media members that Hughes has a "very, very bright future."
"I just told him that any goal he wants to accomplish is still in front of him," Iloka said. "I haven't seen too many rookies with the skill level he's had, and I've played with a lot of good DBs, a lot of first-round DBs, too. The sky is the limit for him."