By Joseph Gunther
Linval Joseph missed the last three games. Anthony Barr the last two. Harrison Smith two of the last three. But the Minnesota Vikings expect to get all of them back for Sunday night’s game against the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium. Joseph has sat with a foot issue, while Barr and Smith have been on the sidelines with knee and knee and hamstring injuries, respectively.
The Vikings run defense has allowed 121.3 yards per game over the last three weeks without Joseph. That span has raised the team’s season average to 112.9 yards per game (20th in the league).
“I’m just glad to be back, I really am,” Joseph told the Star Tribune. “I missed three weeks, and I’m just glad to be back on the field with my guys.”
Joseph’s return can get the defensive line to its original rotation with Sharrif Floyd (who missed Wednesday’s practice due to a non-injury related issue) going back to the three-technique spot and Tom Johnson back to a reserve role. Both Floyd and Johnson have played well in Joseph’s absence, but Joseph was arguably the team’s MVP on defense.
“Actually it has felt pretty good (this week),” Joseph said. “It felt pretty good. I feel like I really haven’t lost a beat. My conditioning, I’ve been training and doing everything to stay where I’m at now, and I’m just glad to be back.”
With his return, he is encouraging a focus from the team on the next hurdle in the road to the playoffs.
“I’m, just looking forward to being back on the field. I’ve been out for three weeks, and I’m glad to be back. Right now the Giants (are) the next game and we need a win to go to the promised land and right now we need to take care of business,” Joseph said.
On offense, the Vikings had no reason to believe star running back Adrian Peterson (ankle) would miss the game. He suffered an ankle injury during the team’s win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday.
All nine players on the Vikings’ injury report are listed as probable.
“We’re planning on, if guys are ready to play, playing them,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Friday.
The Giants have eight players listed on their injury report. They list linebacker Devon Kennard (foot), defensive tackle Marcus Kuhn (knee), linebacker James Morris (quadricep) and safety Cooper Taylor (concussion) as out. They also list wide receiver Dwayne Harris (shoulder) as questionable. They have running back Orleans Darkwa (illness), offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (illness) and defensive end George Selvie (concussion) listed as probable.
Anthony Barr, linebacker (knee)
Rhett Ellison, tight end (ankle)
Everson Griffen, defensive end (shoulder)
Charles Johnson, wide receiver (ankle)
Linval Joseph, defensive tackle (foot)
Adrian Peterson, running back (ankle/shoulder)
Jerick McKinnon, running back (hamstring)
Josh Robinson, cornerback (concussion)
Harrison Smith, safety (knee/hamstring)
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.