By Joseph Gunther

Linval Joseph officially did not return to practice this week after the extra few days off since the last time the Minnesota Vikings played a game. However, the starting nose tackle did take part in individual drills without pads on. Getting the 6-foot-4, 329 pound nose tackle back in the lineup will make no one on the team happier than the man who replaced him, third-year first round draft pick Sharrif Floyd.

“Losing him has been huge over the last few weeks,” Floyd said. “I’ve been talking to (Joseph) every day (saying) ‘Please come back … I’ll give you my big toe or at least give me 10 of your pounds, because, boy, I respect your job.”

Floyd shifted from the three-technique defensive tackle position to nose when Joseph went out and Tom Johnson jumped into the starting lineup alongside him. Floyd also said he is willing to do whatever head coach Mike Zimmer needs him to do. However, it is quite apparent, Floyd wants to get back to the position he is more comfortable at sooner rather than later.

The Vikings worked out a pair of defensive tackles this week, including former first round draft pick Phil Taylor. That may be an indicator that Joseph isn’t as close to returning as they would like.

Playoff Clinching Scenarios

The Vikings have an opportunity to clinch a spot in the postseason with two games remaining in the regular season. They currently own the second wild card spot, but have a chance to still move up the third spot and win the NFC North division.

There are eight ways the Vikings can clinch a playoff on Sunday. They have two things in common; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t win in St. Louis on Thursday and the Vikings don’t lose to the Bears on Sunday. The scenarios as follows:

1) Vikings win, Buccaneers loss or tie, Washington Redskins loss or tie and Atlanta Falcons loss or tie.

2) Vikings win, Buccaneers loss or tie, Redskins loss or tie and Seattle Seahawks loss or tie.

3) Vikings win, Buccaneers loss or tie, New York Giants loss or tie and Falcons loss or tie.

4) Vikings win, Buccaneers loss or tie, Giants loss or tie and Seahawks loss or tie.

5) Vikings tie, Buccaneers loss, Falcons loss or tie, Philadelphia Eagles loss or tie and Redskins loss.

6) Vikings tie, Buccaneers loss, Falcons loss or tie, Eagles loss or tie, Giants loss.

7) Vikings tie, Buccaneers loss, Falcons loss or tie, Redskins loss or tie and Giants loss.

8) Vikings tie, Buccaneers loss, Falcons loss or tie, Giants loss or tie and Redskins loss.

Several things need to happen for the Vikings to clinch this week, but there are also a lot of ways for that to happen. In addition to the Buccaneers playing in St. Louis this week, the other games involving these teams this week are: Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons at the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers at the New York Giants. The only non-noon games are the Thursday contest and Browns-Seahawks game, which is at 3:05 p.m. CT Sunday.

Week 16 Contest Flexed To Primetime

Local writers sent out reports Monday that if the Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins that night (thus remaining in the NFC East and playoff hunt), than the Week 16 game between the Giants and Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium would be moved from a noon start to 7:30 p.m. CT.

The Giants defeated the Dolphins 31-24 to improve to 6-7 on the season. They are tied with the Redskins and Eagles for the lead in the NFC East division.

Roster Move

The Vikings re-signed defensive end Justin Trattou and waived defensive back Shaun Prater. Due to injuries to the defensive backfield, the Vikings added Prater and waived Trattou just over a week ago.

Trattou played the first two games this season as one of the top reserves. He recorded one tackle, one pass defensed and one interception before suffering a foot injury in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. He was forced to miss several weeks due to the injury, but wasn’t able to get back into the active roster because of the development of second-year player Scott Crichton and rookie Danielle Hunter. Now, injuries to the defensive linemen will give Trattou another shot at earning regular rotation reps.

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.

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