Andrew Booth Jr. won’t need to wait long for his next chance.
In last Sunday’s 33-30 overtime win at Buffalo, the Vikings rookie cornerback took over for an injured Akayleb Evans to start the second half. But he was replaced for the final three plays in overtime by veteran Duke Shelley after making some mistakes.
Evans on Friday was ruled out of Sunday’s game against Dallas at U.S. Bank Stadium due to a concussion. And head coach Kevin O’Connell said Booth, not Shelley, will start against the Cowboys.
“I’m very excited to go out there with my teammates and go play and show what I can do,’’ Booth said of his first NFL start.
The Vikings also listed as out defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson, who will miss his third straight game with a right calf injury. They listed as questionable edge rusher Za’Darius Smith (knee). Tackle Christian Darrisaw, who suffered a concussion last Sunday, and receiver Justin Jefferson, limited in two practices during the week with a toe injury, were cleared to play.
Evans took over as a starter after Cameron Dantzler was placed last Saturday on injured reserve due to a high left ankle sprain. But Evans was hurt late in the first half, paving the way for Booth.
With five seconds left in regulation, before the Bills kicked a field goal to tie the score 30-30. Booth was called for pass interference on Stefon Diggs. On the play before the two-minute warning in overtime, Diggs caught a pass across the middle for seven yards, which Booth said led to him being pulled.
“Just more reps correcting what I messed up on,’’ Booth said of what he did in practice this week.
Shelley played the final three snaps at Buffalo, which included breaking up a pass in the end zone. O’Connell said Shelley could get some snaps Sunday, but Booth will start after “a good week of practice.”
Booth has been bogged down by injuries since being a second-round pick out of Clemson, including having missed four games early this season with a quad issue. He only had played on special teams until Sunday.
“(Booth is) just continuing to gain the confidence by understanding our scheme, the techniques, the fundamentals,’’ O’Connell said.
Booth said he “definitely” will be nervous Sunday, but that’s not a bad thing.
“I had nerves before every college game I played,’’ he said. “Before every high school game I played, I had nerves. I think nerves are good for me to keep my adrenaline gone.’’
O’Connell said Evans is making “great progress” and could return next Thursday against New England. He said Tomlinson is getting “real close” to returning. And he said Smith was “feeling really good” at Friday’s practice.
Darrisaw was lost against the Bills after playing 44 snaps. But Blake Brandel, a three-year veteran, looked good in replacing him at left tackle for the final 39 plays.
“He did awesome,’’ said Vikings center Garrett Bradbury. “That’s a big moment for your first NFL action, but it wasn’t too big for him.’’
Brandel was on the practice squad in 2020 and played 65 snaps from scrimmage in 2021. But he had just one snap this season prior to Sunday.
“It’s always weird when you’re waiting on the sideline for that moment, but that’s kind of your job as a backup to just stay ready,’’ Brandel said. “(Darrisaw) went down, and you don’t have time to think really. You’ve just got to trust your technique and your coaching and don’t let the moment get to you.”
Cowboys injury report
The Cowboys listed six players as questionable, including linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring), who played the previous eight years with Minnesota. Also questionable are running back Ezekiel Elliott (knee), defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (foot), punter Bryan Anger (illness), defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna (illness) and cornerback Anthony Brown (concussion).
O’Connell expects Elliott to play and split rushing duties with Tony Pollard. The coach said he has “so much respect for the way they run the football.”
The Vikings have given up an average of 156 yards rushing per game in the two without run stopper Tomlinson. In the seven games before that, they gave up an average of 107.6 on the ground.