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Vikings resting eight players for today's 'dress rehearsal' exhibition against Cardinals

Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen will make his preseason debut during Saturday afternoon’s “dress rehearsal” against the Cardinals.

Stephen was not among the eight Vikings players officially listed as not expected to play. Only the injured were listed, however it’s likely head coach Mike Zimmer rests some of his stars, too.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph (shoulder), right tackle Brian O’Neill (arm), tackle Aviante Collins (leg), receiver Jeff Badet (undisclosed) and defensive end Ade Aruna (undisclosed) will not play. Neither will two players on PUP — cornerback Mike Hughes (knee) and tight end David Morgan — and defensive end Tashawn Bower (Achilles), who remains on the non-football injury list.

O’Neill has been sidelined since injuring his elbow Aug. 5 in practice. Zimmer defined the injury as “short-term” afterward, but it’s been three weeks since O’Neill practiced in full.

We’ll see whether running back Dalvin Cook, the only healthy player yet to play this preseason, will get any snaps. Zimmer has been cautious with Cook, holding him out of exhibitions and turf practices.

Receiver Adam Thielen and safety Harrison Smith, who was held out of practice Thursday, were not among Vikings players suited up before the game. Both may be rested for this exhibition.

Stephen, a 2014 seventh-round pick by Minnesota, will see game action for the first time since returning to the Vikings on a three-year deal in March. He’s eased back since returning from an undisclosed injury on Aug. 2.

Finally full strength: Joseph back at practice after grueling rehab

The Vikings have three practices before Saturday’s third preseason game, in which starters could play up to the first half, against the Cardinals.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, was cleared for full team drills Tuesday. Head coach Mike Zimmer would not say whether Joseph will play Saturday against the Cardinals.

Walking off the practice field after going through team drills for the first time, Joseph finally opened up about his offseason road to recovery and how he’s not only back to full strength, but “Way stronger than I was last year.”

The Vikings starting nose tackle thanked the Vikings medical, strength and athletic training staffs for bringing him back, at age 30, from what he called the toughest season he’s endured physically in what’s now a 10-year NFL career.

“Last year, after Week 5, when Danielle [Hunter] hit me in my leg, I want to say that was the hardest season I ever had to play,” Joseph said. “Just my whole leg, my whole arm [hurting], I fought through it. I did it for my guys and gave it everything I had.

“I think the [rehab] stuff I was doing off the field [to come back] was way harder than practice. So to be back out here actually is a relief.”

Joseph said he isn’t sure if he’ll play Saturday. Either way, he said team practice reps are all he would need to get ready for the regular season.

“Preseason for me at this point is to sharpen up my tool,” Joseph said. “Nothing really can get accomplished in preseason for me team-wise. But just for my individual working on stunts, my hand moves, just polishing things up from the rust off last year. I can get that in practice because each day you practice you can get better.”

Joseph, a two-time Pro Bowler who turns 31 in October, has played 78 of 83 games since joining the Vikings five years ago.

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