Vikings’ Irv Smith returns to the practice three weeks after surgery

Just three weeks after surgery on his right thumb, Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. was back on the practice field Monday, taking the next step in a rehab process the team can have him ready for the regular-season opener against Green Bay on Sept. 11.

Smith took part in some individual drills with a wrap on his thumb and was on the field for some full-team snaps. He wasn’t catching the ball yet, but coach Kevin O’Connell said he thought Smith “moved great today.”

“He looks like he’s in great shape, so I credit our sports performance staff and [strength coach] Josh Hingst for keeping him ready to go and engaged despite him being out of surgery and not being able to do much,” O’Connell added. “He’ll continue to progress into real football, but he’s made great strides and I’m proud of the way Irv’s attacked this thing.”

Smith, O’Connell said, has remained involved in the Vikings’ meetings and walk-throughs after surgery. The key step, between now and Week 1, will be to ensure he can do everything his job requires.

“I’m happy with where Irv’s at right now, and hoping to continue to progress him toward game action,” O’Connell said.

Booth should be ready for Packers game

Second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. limped off the field during Saturday’s game, after aggravating an ankle injury in the second quarter. O’Connell said Booth’s injury is “a little bit more than day-to-day,” and it’s unclear at this point whether the Vikings will try to have the cornerback play in the preseason finale Saturday night in Denver.

Either way, O’Connell said, the Vikings are hopeful about Booth’s status for the start of the regular season. In the meantime, the team will use a number of resources to help get the rookie ready for a Week 1 matchup with Aaron Rodgers.

“We’ve got a virtual [reality] room, we’ve got a bunch of coaches that can be meeting with him extra, if he needs that time,” O’Connell said. “And then obviously we’ll have walk-throughs, we’ll have different ways of keeping him engaged, even though he can’t get those full-speed reps. I think Andrew will be just fine from a mental standpoint.”

Cine, Phillips miss practice

First-round pick Lewis Cine and nose tackle Harrison Phillips sat out on Monday with leg injuries; Cine had an ice pack around his left knee, while Phillips wore a sustained a sleeve on his right leg because of a minor ankle injury he during joint practices with the 49ers last week.

“He’s actually practiced through [the injury] against San Francisco,” O’Connell said. “I give him a lot of credit for that. He’s truly day-to-day, just wearing those guys [on the Vikings’ athletic training staff] out getting treatment and trying to get back in there.”

Cine played 31 of the Vikings’ 76 defensive snaps on Saturday night, and O’Connell said the safety was out with a “little contusion.”

“I don’t worry one bit about Lew,” he said.

Guard Chris Red continued to work on the side because of an elbow injury, while wide receiver Dan Chisena and defensive backs Kris Boyd and Parry Nickerson injuries.

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