By Joseph Gunther
Linval Joseph is a big piece of the Minnesota Viking defense. He has, arguably, been the most valuable player on the team’s defense. The 6-foot-4-inch, 329 pound nose tackle suffered a foot injury during the win over the Atlanta Falcons. After missing all three practices this week in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium. His absence from practice has forced the team to declare him out for Week 13.
“Of course it’s going to be frustrating,” Joseph said Friday after practice. “But I’m just glad I can still support my team, go out there and help them and just use my eyes, be a coach.”
The Vikings will use starting three-technique defensive tackle (the interior defensive lineman next to Joseph) in Joseph’s place at nose tackle. Sharrif Floyd has not played the nose position yet in the pros, but filled a variety of roles along the defensive line at the University of Florida.
“I was a nose in college, I was a three in college,” Floyd said. “It’s just playing ball at this point. It’s something I love to do. Coach asks me to do something, it’s going to get done. No need to be crying about it; I’ve still got to do it.
“Playing the nose is a different technique for sure. It’s less get off, less speed out of my legs. It’s more using my hands and staying in my gap. But I can’t wait. These guys want to come in and run the ball, and we got to be ready to stop them. Linval’s a great guy, great teammate. Hopefully, he gets back soon. But I have to play the position until he gets himself together. Let’s see how it goes.”
Floyd’s shift to nose means that Tom Johnson will start at the three-technique and massive backup Kenrick Ellis will get an increase in playing time. Johnson started three games in place of Floyd earlier in the season, a stretch of three-straight Vikings wins. Ellis has played sparingly in four of six games since signing with the Vikings.
The Vikings will also be without starting safety Andrew Sendejo, he suffered a knee injury during the Falcons game. Fellow starting safety Harrison Smith missed last week’s game and is questionable to play against the Seahawks. Smith was originally listed as questionable before being downgraded to out with a 24-hour period.
Antone Exum replaced Smith in the starting lineup last and will remain in the starting lineup, presumably replacing Sendejo, this week. Robert Blanton, who is listed as probable for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, is the other safety on the 53-man roster. Undrafted rookie Anthony Harris and John Lowdermilk, who was signed earlier this week, are potential safeties that could be elevated to the 53-man roster prior to Sunday’s game.
The Seahawks have 10 players listed on their injury report. They list defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (concussion), defensive tackle Jordan Hill (toe), running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) and wide receiver Paul Richardson (hamstring) as out. They also list defensive back Marcus Burley (ankle) and fullback Will Tukuafu (concussion) as questionable as well as defensive end Michael Bennett (not injury related), cornerback Jeremy Lane (knee), center Patrick Lewis (knee) and free safety Earl Thomas (hip) as probable.
Robert Blanton, safety (ankle)
Trae Waynes, cornerback (ankle)
Anthony Barr, linebacker (hand/groin)
Harrison Smith, safety (knee)
Linval Joseph, defensive tackle (foot)
Andrew Sendejo, safety (knee)
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.