By Joseph Gunther

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says he wants to see players in practice before declaring them active for the game on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium. That bodes well for four starters on the defense, but not for one.

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Chad Greenway has been hampered by injuries to both his hand and rib since Week 2. The veteran linebacker played through the injuries against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 at the Superdome, but was not at 100 percent.

“You go back and look at the tape and I just couldn’t be nearly as effective as I needed to be,” Greenway said. “That’s the unfortunate part of this game. Injuries happen and you just have to deal with stuff. Sometimes you can’t deal with them as much as you thought you could have or they become just too much.”

If Greenway is unable to play on Sunday, second-year linebacker Gerald Hodges is expected to take his spot in the starting lineup. Hodges has played well through the first three games of the season.

Greenway’s role has been more than just as the starting weak side linebacker. He also has made the defensive play calls with the headset in his helmet. When he went out of the game on Sunday, rookie Anthony Barr wore the speaker in his helmet.

“Who ever is the guy in the most packages is usually the guy that we try to keep (it) in the helmet,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “When Chad went down the other day, he was the guy that was in every package so he was up in it.”

The Vikings received good news when starters safety Harrison Smith (knee), defensive tackles Linval Joseph (shoulder) and Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) and cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) were able to take part in practice.

The Falcons have had some notable injuries, but not the numbers that the Vikings have. The Falcons listed wide receiver Roddy White as a limited participant and linebacker Prince Shembo, wide receivers Harry Douglas and Devin Hester and running back Antone Smith as full participants in Thursday’s practice.

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Despite missing Wednesday’s practice and being limited Thursday, White feels ready to play after missing the Falcons’ Week 3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Yeah yeah, I feel good,” White said after Thursday’s practice. “If I didn’t, then, you know, I wouldn’t be talking to y’all right now. So, yeah, I feel good. It was kind of frustrating just going out there and watching. Every time I watch football games from the sideline, I’m kind of frustrated, you know, not being out there with my teammates and things like that. But…I’m ready to roll.”

The Complete injury Report

The Vikings listed Greenway (hand/rib) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) as non-participants in Thursday’s practice.

The team listed Robinson (hamstring), Joseph (shoulder) and linebacker Brandon Watts (knee) as limited participants in Thursday’s practice.

They listed Smith (knee), Floyd (shoulder), linebacker Michael Mauti (foot) and wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring) as full participants in Thursday’s practice.

For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.

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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.