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Linval Joseph Returns To Minnesota Vikings Practice

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

It's starting to look as though the Big Dog might get a chance to eat on Sunday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium.

Following the return of safety Harrison Smith to practice on Wednesday, defensive tackle Linval Joseph was practicing for the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday. Joseph was originally injured against the Atlanta Falcons a couple of weeks ago, and was inactive for the Vikings' games against both the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. He has been dealing with a foot injury.

Joseph has been having an All-Pro caliber season in his second year with the Vikings, and the team has been a little soft in the middle on defense without him, allowing Thomas Rawls and David Johnson to both go over the 100-yard mark in the last two games. With Joseph back, even if it's in a limited capacity, the Vikings could move Sharrif Floyd back to this three-technique spot and allow Tom Johnson to move into the rotational role that suits him the best.

On the downside, both linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Everson Griffen were out of practice, but were both seen working on the side with trainers. Griffen is dealing with a shoulder issue, while Barr is working through the leg issues that have bothered him the past couple of weeks. Wide receiver Charles Johnson also sat out of today's practice with an undisclosed ailment. Defensive end Scott Crichton was also out of practice, apparently dealing with the after effects of a concussion.

It looks like the Vikings might have Smith and Joseph back for Sunday's contest against the Chicago Bears. Barr continuing to be out of practice is not a positive sign, as Mike Zimmer generally doesn't play players that miss the Friday practice session. We'll be closely monitoring the status of both Barr and Griffen in anticipation of Friday's final official injury report being released.