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Vikings rookie safety Lewis Cine ‘not looking too deep’ at decision to start Josh Metellus vs. Lions

Despite being picked in 1st round, Cine has been unable to take starting spot from Camryn Bynum

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Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine lines up for a play during the second quarter of an NFL preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Aug. 20, 2022.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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When the Vikings started Josh Metellus at safety in last Sunday’s game against Detroit, rookie Lewis Cine vowed to remain on an even keel.

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Lewis Cine

Harrison Smith was ruled out of the game due to a concussion, and the Vikings didn’t make any announcement on his replacement prior to kickoff. They ended up going with Metellus, a three-year veteran who played well and had the game-clinching interception with 9 seconds left in a 28-24 victory.

“I thought Josh played great,” Cine said Wednesday. “When he got the interception, I was one of the first players to go out and celebrate with him.”

Despite being taken with the No. 32 pick in the first round of the draft in April, Cine has been unable to beat out Camryn Bynum to start at one safety spot. And when Smith was hurt, he wasn’t even the first safety off the bench.

“At the end of the day, it’s just work to me,” Cine said. “I strap up my boots and come to work every day. I bring my best foot forward, so I’m not looking too deep into the decision that was made. So it’s another work week and another work day, and that’s how I look at it.”

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Cine was hampered by a knee injury that resulted in him missing the preseason finale and the Sept. 11 opener against Green Bay.

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Tomlinson has missed the past three games due to a right calf injury, and hasn’t taken part in any practices or walkthroughs since being hurt Oct. 30 against Arizona.

“It was unfortunate,” he said. “It was a setback, but I’m back now and working to gain the trust of coaches.”

Cine admits there’s “been a learning curve” he’s had in “adjusting to a new defense.” But he said that process has been “nothing too crazy.”

Smith was a full participant in practice Wednesday and will return for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints in London, so Metellus and Cine might get in for plays from scrimmage. But Vikings first-year coach Kevin O’Connell said Cine, who played one snap from scrimmage late in a 24-7 loss at Philadelphia on Sept. 19 and has played 30 snaps on special teams in two games, still has an important role.

“I think Lew’s in a place right now where he’s having a major impact on special teams,” O’Connell said. “He’s been really dynamic there.”

Banged-up Vikings

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Dalvin Cook

The Vikings are as banged up as they have been all season.
Not practicing Wednesday were running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder), edge rusher Za’Darius Smith (knee), fullback C.J. Ham (foot), all starters, and rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (quadriceps).

Cook was injured late in the third quarter against the Lions and sat out the rest of the game. Asked if he anticipates playing against the Saints, Cook only would say that he’s “day-to-day.”

Za’Darius Smith was hurt late in the game against Detroit but did not come out. He had a sleeve on his left knee prior to Wednesday’s practice, and declined comment when asked about his injury.

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O’Connell said the edge rusher “came out of the game a little sore” and that the Vikings will “continue treatment and try to get him ready to go” for Sunday’s game.

It’s uncertain when Ham was hurt. Booth has missed the past two games after being injured against the Packers.

Bend but don't break

How good have the Vikings been on defense this season? It depends on which statistic you look at.

Out of 32 NFL teams, the Vikings rank No. 30 in total defense, giving up an average of 413.3 yards per game. However, they are No. 9 in the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 18.3 points in three games, and they haven’t given up any points in the fourth quarter.

“I would just say that we’ve been able to make (defensive) stands when you have to,” defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson said. “There’s always room for improvement for our defense but the biggest thing is to keep a team from scoring.”

O’Connell said the Vikings “want to tighten up in the yardage and kind of the ball control that some teams have been able to have on us.”

Briefly

If the NFL opts to move Sunday night’s game between Kansas City and Tampa Bay from Tampa, Fla., due to Hurricane Ian, a league spokesperson said that the game will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium. … Star receiver Justin Jefferson, drawing double coverage, has just nine catches for 62 yards in the past two games. Quarterback Kirk Cousins said Jefferson would be “a great option” if the Vikings can get him the ball but that “the key will be offensive production regardless of who’s getting the ball.” … O’Connell lauded the play of right tackle Brian O’Neill, saying he has “been everything I’d hoped for and more” and that he has been “ultra consistent.” … While O’Connell said he wants players “to go enjoy the experience” of being in London, he said the team will have curfews in place.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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