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Vikings rookie Lewis Cine in ‘good spirits’ as he awaits surgery in London to repair leg injury

Rookie expected to miss rest of season.

NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine receives medical treatment after suffering a fracture to his left leg during a punt return on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, against the New Orleans Saints in London. Cine remained in London and is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.
Peter van den Berg / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings rookie safety Lewis Cine, who suffered a compound fracture to his lower left leg during Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, has remained in London and will have surgery there Tuesday.

Cine, taken with the No. 32 pick in the first round of the NFL draft in April out of Georgia, suffered the season-ending injury on a Vikings punt return late in the first quarter of the 28-25 win over the Saints at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. On Monday, he had what Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell called a “successful” preparatory procedure in advance of his surgery.

“He’s in good spirits,” O’Connell said. “I was able to speak with Lew (early Monday morning) when we arrived back here in the Twin Cities, spoke with him for about 20 minutes, which obviously was great for me to be able to touch base with him and speak with him to make sure he was doing well, all things considered.”

The Vikings kept a member of their medical staff in London to be with Cine. Sources close to the situation said that if all goes well with the surgery, he could return to Minnesota late this week, begin walking in several weeks and then be on the path to returning to play in 2023.

SPORTS-VIKINGS-ROOKIE-SAFETY-LEWIS-CINE-1-SP.jpg
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

However, sources said a key is to prevent an infection, which would be a setback. That is one reason why Cine remained in London. More will be known about his recovery timetable after the surgery, which O’Connell said is expected to be conducted “around” 2-2:30 p.m. Tuesday in London (8-8:30 a.m. CDT).

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Lewis Cine

When asked Monday whether he knows for sure that Cine will be able to return to playing football, O’Connell called it “a tough question” and said the Vikings at this point are thinking “short term” about his recovery.

“This is not my first time dealing with a player with an injury like this,” O’Connell said. “So I’m extra sensitive to making sure first and foremost before we even start talking about repairing that injury, we’re doing the things preparation-wise to make sure that when that repair happens, that everything moving forward is about Lew and day-by-day knowing that we’re right there with him as he makes his way back to, hopefully, a full recovery.”

O’Connell said it’s going to take a lot of “lonely work” in rehabilitation by Cine for “him to get back.” But he has no doubt Cine will be “attacking that every step of the way.”

After Cine was injured, players gathered around him on the field in a show of support. He was taken off on a cart and backboard with an air cast on his leg and driven to a London hospital.

“He’s receiving great care,” O’Connell said. “I can’t say enough, not only about the on-field and at-stadium personnel that were able to, not only our crew, but folks there with the NFL and obviously the local medical facilities there to handle it the way they did and get Lew the immediate treatment he needed.”

Cine lost the battle in training camp and in the preseason with Camryn Bynum to start at safety, and he missed the final preseason game and Week 1 of the regular season due to a knee injury. Before his injury, he had played just two snaps this season from scrimmage but was a valuable player on special teams.

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After Sunday’s game, there was an outpouring of support from players about Cine’s injury

“I just hope that Lewis continues to stay strong and knows that his brothers are here and we have his back,” veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson said.

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“It’s hard enough for a rookie as it is,” linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “He showed up. He’s worked hard. He’s made an impact on us. … We all love him. Love his personality. He’s a great guy. … Everybody was pretty devastated.”

From a football standpoint, the Vikings will need a fourth safety on the roster after starters Harrison Smith and Bynum and top reserve Josh Metellus. One option could be signing Myles Dorn off the practice squad. For Sunday’s game against Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium, they could elevate Dorn off the squad for his third and final allowed elevation of the season and then address the safety situation in more detail next week.

For now, the Vikings are most concerned about Cine’s health.

“We’ve got to get him fixed up and he’s got the care he needs, and he knows we’re going to get him back here as soon as we can and get our team and our players around him,” O’Connell said.

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