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Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Mike Zimmer, sporting an eye patch, is back with the Vikings

Mike Zimmer, six days removed from emergency eye surgery and four days after a follow-up procedure, was back coaching the Vikings today as players reported back to Winter Park after getting the weekend off.

As the Vikings practiced indoors this morning, Zimmer wore a white eyepatch over his right eye as he watched his team go through individual drills with his left eye. His vision in his good eye was good enough for him to bark instructions to wideout Stefon Diggs from about 50 yards away.


Zimmer will not speak with reporters until tomorrow morning. It will be the first time since surgery to repair a detached retina last Wednesday.

Zimmer wasn’t the only one returning to practice. Center Joe Berger, who missed last week’s loss to the Cowboys due to a concussion, was back at practice, so were cornerbacks Marcus Sherels and Mackensie Alexander.

Meanwhile, Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith, who last Thursday left U.S. Bank Stadium on crutches, was not spotted at practice. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and linebacker Edmond Robinson also sat out the practice.

Vikings have three players among Pro Bowl ballot leaders

This season has quickly deteriorated for the Vikings, though a few players are gaining Pro Bowl respect from the fans.

Three Vikings players rank among the top five at their positions in fan balloting for the Pro Bowl, which runs through Dec. 13. Players and coaches cast their votes on Dec. 16 and the rosters will be announced Dec. 20.

Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFC’s special teams contributor category with 102,116 votes. That’s separate from return specialist, where Seattle’s Tyler Lockett leads the voting.Patterson, whose 30.5-yard average on kickoffs tops the league, has picked up additional duties as a gunner on coverage teams.

Harrison Smith is second overall among free safeties with 89,565 votes from the fans. He trails Seattle’s Earl Thomas (144,891), the four-time All-Pro safety who suffered a broken leg Sunday night and will not return this season. Smith leads the Vikings in tackles (84 combined) along with two sacks, two pass deflections and no interceptions through 12 games this season.

Linval Joseph is fifth overall among defensive tackles with 132,926 votes. The Vikings nose guard is fourth on the team in tackles (53 combined), two for a loss, and has three sacks and two forced fumbles. Los Angeles’ Aaron Donald and Miami’s Ndamukong Suh lead defensive tackles in the NFC and AFC.

Cowboys rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott are the top two vote-getters in the league. Prescott, the fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, leads five quarterbacks in the top 10 of fan voting ahead of Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, whose four interceptions leads the Vikings and is tied for fourth in the NFL, is not among the league’s top five in fan voting. Richard Sherman, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Patrick Peterson and Josh Norman currently lead.

No early Pro Bowl ballot leaders for the Vikings offense,a group with four starters on injured reserve and ranks 26th in points and 31st in yards per play.

Last season, running back Adrian Peterson was the lone initial Pro Bowl selection for the Vikings. Four more, including Smith, eventually joined him as alternates.

12:00 PM, 12/11 (FOX)
Minnesota 6-6
Jacksonville 2-10

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