‘Smooth’ rookie Andrew Booth endearing himself to Vikings teammates
Booth will make his first appearance at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday against San Francisco
EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. said his nickname has been “Smooth” since he was in middle school in his hometown of Dacula, Ga. But apparently word about that has not yet reached Minnesota.
“These are new guys, so (teammates) just call me ‘A.B.,’ ” Booth said. “I don’t want to coin it, but if they see the smoothness, they can call me ‘Smooth.’ ”
Perhaps it could catch on. Two key Vikings defensive players were told about Booth’s nickname, and they believe it fits.
“You look at him, and he looks smooth,” linebacker Jordan Hicks said.
“Smooth. Got you,” said cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Peterson likes what he has seen so far from Booth, taken in the second round of the draft with the No. 42 overall pick out of Clemson. Booth will make his first appearance at U.S. Bank Stadium when the Vikings face San Francisco at 6 p.m. Saturday in their second preseason game.
The Vikings had joint practices with the 49ers on Wednesday and Thursday at the TCO Performance Center, and Booth made his presence known with his aggressive play on receivers.
“He’s a guy that’s a dawg, that brings a different attitude to the secondary,” Peterson said. “I’m excited to see his growth. He made a couple of great plays (Thursday), and he’s going to be a guy to look out for in a couple of years.”
For now, Booth still needs some refinement. In the first quarter of his first preseason game on Sunday, he committed 36 yards of penalties on the same play in a 26-20 loss at Las Vegas. He was called for a 21-yard pass interference on Tyron Johnson and then a 15-yard face mask on Johnson.
Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said the officials “charged the guy pretty heavy for something that, you look at the film you can’t even see anything.” Peterson said the calls “were a little harsh.”
Nevertheless, Booth called the play a learning experience.
“I still got a little bit of growing to do,” Booth said. “I think once I close those gaps, the P.I. call, just controlled aggression, I’ll be ready to grow.”
Booth is battling third-year pro Cameron Dantzler to start at the cornerback spot opposite Peterson. Dantzler is listed ahead of Booth on the depth chart, and is a strong favorite to remain there entering the Sept. 11 opener against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium. But Booth is in line to likely be the team’s No. 3 outside cornerback.
Booth started against the Raiders since Peterson did not play. He played 34 defensive snaps and had two tackles, and Donatell said his overall play was “solid.”
“He’s a competitive young guy who’s playing at a high level,” Hicks said. “It’s exciting to have young guys who have that confidence and energy that he does. He’s doing a great job growing and getting better.”
Booth has plenty of confidence. He said his all-time favorite cornerback is former star Darrelle Revis, who was known as a “shutdown corner.” Booth was asked if he expects that description to be used one day for him.
“Indeed,” he said. “Believe it because I’m going to get on my (game), and I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to get on my technique. We’ll see after this season.”
Booth has been endearing himself to teammates even if they sometimes give him grief. Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson, who went to Alabama, brought up the rivalry his alma mater has with Booth’s. Since 2009, the Crimson Tide has won six national championships, and Clemson has been the only other school with multiple titles, winning two.
“(Booth) actually sits next to me in meetings,” Tomlinson said. “He always comes in with a Clemson notebook in the meetings, and I’m like, ‘You can’t bring that in here.’ I’m messing with him.”
Asked to describe Booth, Tomlinson called him “super cool.” That at least seems similar to smooth.
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