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Vikings rookie safety Lewis Cine remains patient in bid for starting job

The Vikings picked safety Lewis Cine in the first round of the 2022 draft, but whether he starts the Sept. 11 opener against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium remains to be seen.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine performs a drill at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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EAGAN, Minn. — The previous time the Minnesota Vikings selected a safety in the first round of the NFL draft, Harrison Smith moved into the starting lineup in Week 1 in 2012. And he’s been there ever since.

Lewis Cine
Lewis Cine
Courtesy of Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings picked another safety, Lewis Cine, in the first round of the 2022 draft in April, but whether he starts the Sept. 11 opener against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium remains to be seen. Second-year pro Camryn Bynum worked with the first team throughout spring drills, and that has continued for the first week and a half of training camp.

For now, Cine remains patient.

“My goal is to contribute to the team each and every way I can whether it’s special teams, defense, wherever I can,” Cine said of the battle with Bynum. “I trust (defensive coordinator Ed) Donatell. I trust that he’ll put me where I help the team the most, and at the end of the day I’ll put my best foot forward and compete. … Bynum makes me better, and I make Bynum better.

Cine was selected with the No. 32 and last pick in the first round out of Georgia. Smith was taken No. 29 in 2012 out of Notre Dame, and is entering his 11th season.

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It hasn’t taken Cine long to develop a bond with Smith. He said he is “soaking up information from Harry on our defense,” and also learning from him off the field.

“Other than football, we talk about life, business, his upbringing, my upbringing, and we kind of make jokes, laugh,” Cine said. “But Harry is a cool man, a cool dude, and I’m going to keep learning form him.”

From a football standpoint, Smith said at the start of training camp he likes what he has seen from Cine.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders,” Smith said. “He’s smart. He’s got a bunch of tools.”

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Cine also has been trying to learn as much as he can from Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. Shortly after Cine was drafted, he appeared on the “All Things Covered” podcast Peterson hosts along with former NFL cornerback Bryant McFadden.

Cine then met Peterson when the Vikings took the field in May for spring drills.

“I look real close at P,” Cine said. “He’s a real technician, real smart with how he does things with a purpose. I might not be saying anything to him, but I’m really making sure I pay attention to him from a distance.”

Overall, Cine believes he’s making a smooth transition to the NFL.

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“I think I’m doing well,” he said. “I’m just using every rep I get as competition to get better and to get the guy across from me better. … I’ll tell you, this is way better than I had it in college. They treat you like a pro, and you don’t have class. I just focus on ball. I love football.”

Donatell said shortly after training camp got underway that he would continue to evaluate how to best use Cine as well as Bynum. He brought up the possibility of at times using three safeties, which would be one way to get the rookie some snaps.

“We’ve been working a whole lot of that, to get all three of us on the field and playing and contributing to the defense, so stay tuned for that,” Cine said.

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