Vikings right tackle Brian O'Neill said his offseason has come with "no surprises," which is welcomed by the team captain who was shelved for the season after he was injured while chasing down Packers safety Darnell Savage on Jan. 1 — just two weeks before the Vikings' playoff loss to the Giants.

"It was obviously really disappointing personally [missing] the opportunity to play in that game," O'Neill said Wednesday in his first comments to local reporters since the injury. "But as far as the process since, it's been really smooth. Since the diagnosis, there's been no surprises from the morning we took the MRI to coming in for the surgery and going out of the surgery, to everything since then, no surprises."

Blake Brandel, who re-signed with the Vikings this offseason after making three starts last year, appeared to take O'Neill's spot during offensive line drills in Wednesday's voluntary offseason workout at TCO Performance Center. But O'Neill is expected to be ready by training camp, head coach Kevin O'Connell said in March. O'Connell said the training staff will "be smart" with the 27-year-old Pro Bowler by easing his return.

O'Neill's surgery, performed by team physician Dr. Johannes Coetzee, repaired an avulsion fracture that damaged about 40% of his right Achilles tendon, team sports performance director Tyler Williams said last month.

"We're all confident there will be enough time" to return for the start of the 2023 season," O'Neill said.

"In terms of am I two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks ahead? I'm not really going to get into all that with [trainers]," he said. "It's more of in this stage we're at now, are we doing this right? And so far we have. Every step has been really good, really smooth, and I'm happy where I'm at."

He was also pleased with the Vikings' decision to give center Garrett Bradbury, O'Neill's friend and teammate since 2019, a new three-year deal.

"Not only that," O'Neill said, "but having the same play-caller for two years in a row is something that hasn't really happened around here on offense, so having that combined with all the guys back — really excited. I think we're going to have a really good group."

'Like Ferraris'

Cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., the Vikings' 2022 second-round pick out of Clemson, revealed Wednesday that he suffered a torn lateral meniscus during the first quarter of his first NFL start, the Nov. 20 loss to the Cowboys. Booth played through the injury, which he said was caused by "getting stuck in the turf" at U.S. Bank Stadium. He underwent knee surgery Nov. 28.

Booth said he remains on track to return by training camp following what the Vikings estimate will be a six- to eight-month recovery. An unfortunate slew of injuries followed him from Clemson to Minnesota, a trend Booth is looking to reverse. At 22 years old, the 6-foot cornerback is still one of the youngest players on the Vikings roster.

"Dealt with a lot of injuries," Booth said. "Learning how to be a pro and taking care of your body. Your body is going to get you through this, that's what's going to provide my longevity.

"It's work that has to be done outside this facility, even if I am in the training room and I live there, there's work I have to do at home. I can go different places to get that extra treatment. They say our bodies are like Ferraris, so we got to treat it a certain way."

Booth also missed practice and game time last year for hernia surgery and ankle and quad injuries.

"It's tough," Booth said. "Tyler [Williams] would tell you. He has to stay on me like, 'Booth, chill out, chill out, you're going to have your time.' It's all about, like I said, becoming a pro and understanding not everything's full go and just knowing when to hit the brakes."

Heads up

Cornerback Akayleb Evans, a 2022 fourth-round pick out of Missouri, is also trying to stay on the field — and protect his brain. Evans was in the concussion protocol following three games last season against the Bears, Bills and Jets, the last of which led to season-ending injured reserve.

Evans, who turns 24 next month, said he's scheduled next week to be fitted for a custom helmet with "extra padding" manufactured by Vicis. He also sees opportunity in a retooled cornerback group. Evans had three tackles for loss, two deflections and one forced fumble while appearing in six games on defense.

"I'm really excited," Evans said. "I felt like I was able to show some flashes of what I can do last year, but I feel like this year is about taking over."

Adjusting tackling technique is also a focus for Evans, who credited pointers from defensive backs coach Daronte Jones and former teammate Patrick Peterson.

"My mind-set when I tackle is be aggressive, right?" Evans said. "But not every tackle has to be a kill shot, so just keep my head out of it."

Evans said he also has focused on his mental health by making off-field adjustments.

"Getting off social media," Evans said. "Had to take a step back, because I had to realize, like, a lot of people I'm interacting with aren't in my shoes. Just make sure I'm good first and foremost."