Heading into Thursday’s game against the Patriots, the Vikings are still trying to figure out how many of their cornerbacks will be available.
Rookie Akayleb Evans is still in the concussion protocol; he could be cleared in time for Thursday’s game, though coach Kevin O’Connell said it’s important the Vikings “stay true” to the protocol and not try to rush Evans or left tackle Christian Darrisaw back from it.
Second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr., who started in Evans’ place on Sunday, is dealing with knee soreness from the game. “That can happen from time to time,” O’Connell said. “With it being a short week, we’ll see where he’s at.”
The Vikings held a walk-through on Tuesday, but Booth would not have practiced if they’d had a full session, according to the team’s injury report.
If Evans is cleared from the concussion protocol in time for Thursday’s game, he would likely start. If both Evans and Booth are out, Duke Shelley would likely make his seventh career start.
Shelley played three defensive snaps against Buffalo, after the Vikings pulled Booth from the game, and broke up what might have been a game-ending touchdown pass from Josh Allen to Dawson Knox in overtime.
O’Connell indicated he wanted to be cautious with Booth, which could mean it’s Evans or Shelley on Thursday night.
“Duke would be up [if the other players can’t play], and as we saw against Buffalo, he is ready, when his number is called to step in and make a play,” O’Connell said. “We’ll see how it kind of works out the rest of the week, but knowing we’ve got the mini-bye type of week after this leading into another home game, I want Andrew to feel like he’s ready to go if he’s going to go Thursday.”
Tomlinson nearing return, but how soon?
Defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson was listed as a limited participant on Tuesday. There’s a chance Tomlinson could return Thursday from the calf injury that’s caused him to miss the Vikings’ past three games, though O’Connell wasn’t ready to declare him ready to play.
“Dalvin continues to progress pretty rapidly and is in a really good spot,” O’Connell said. “With it being a short week again, we’ll be smart with him. Not at all in a place yet to rule him out or determine if he’s going to play or not.”
‘Constant dialogue’ with Jefferson
On Monday, wide receiver Justin Jefferson said he wished the Vikings offense had adjusted faster to the Cowboys’ pass rush on Sunday, adding the team needed to get the ball out of Kirk Cousins‘ hands sooner than it did.
The Vikings now will face a Patriots team that leads the league in quarterback pressures. As O’Connell puts together a game plan for how his team will deal with the Patriots’ pass rush without Darrisaw, he said he’s had conversations with Jefferson all week.
“I talked to Justin during the game, talked to him both today and yesterday,” O’Connell said. “He’s one of those players I have constant dialogue with, whether he’s gone for double-digit catches and 180-plus yards, or maybe he doesn’t have the kind of impact that we hope, every single time we go out there, he can have.
“Ultimately, Justin knows that we’re going to do whatever we can to move the football in the best interest of our offense, and try to just challenge each other to be at our best and improve week-in and week-out. … Quite honestly, I’m working every single week to make sure I’m prepared for all possible outcomes and make sure these guys on offense know I’m doing everything I can for them.”
Etc.Former Viking Jared Allen was among 28 modern day semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2023. Fifteen finalists will be announced before the final voting process in January. Allen has been a finalist the past two years. Running back Dalvin Cook was the Vikings’ nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which is given to an NFL player who “demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship.”