Kevin O’Connell Offers High Praise for Vikings Safety Lewis Cine
A day after Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took to the podium to answer media questions at the NFL scouting combine, head coach Kevin O’Connell did the same on Wednesday afternoon. Among the topics discussed was Vikings safety Lewis Cine and his health heading into 2023.
Of course, Cine was the No. 32 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the first pick made by the Vikings after they traded down from No. 12 with the Detroit Lions. It was a controversial move at the time, but that trade, along with another with the Green Bay Packers, allowed Minnesota to land players like CB Andrew Booth Jr. and LB Brian Asamoah.
However, Cine’s rookie season was cut short after he suffered a season-ending compound leg fracture in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints when the two teams faced off in London. He finished the season playing just three games, appearing in only two defensive snaps and 34 special teams snaps.
Since the injury and surgery in the aftermath of it, Cine has been attacking his rehab with a fervor. Just last month, the Vikings safety posted multiple videos of him going through workouts seemingly at full health in his legs.
In Wednesday’s media session, O’Connell praised the safety for his work ethic saying, “Lewis is in a great spot right now. He’s well ahead of his rehab process. It’s unique to see a player every single day, this time of year at the facility, but that’s been Lew. He’s been in my office a bunch asking, ‘When do we get started? Have you set the schedule for OTAs?'”
O’Connell concluded his comments by expressing excitement for Cine’s future with the team, “I’m really excited about Lewis and his mental growth through, you know, how he handled the adversity of that injury, how he connected with his teammates, and ultimately, hopefully this is just going to be a small bump in a great road to Lew becoming the player he’s going to become.”
These are very promising comments for a player that the Vikings put a lot of faith in by drafting in the first round. With Harrison Smith’s playing window coming to a close, likely sooner rather than later, Minnesota needs to find a stabilizing presence at the safety position. Taking into account Cine’s work ethic along with his leadership in the locker room, Minnesota may have that player when he is officially ready to suit up for games.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.