Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph missed a third consecutive practice Friday and is doubtful for Sunday’s regular-season finale at Green Bay.
Joseph stretched with the team Friday morning and then left the fieldhouse at Winter Park. Before the final injury report was released, coach Mike Zimmer confirmed Joseph didn’t practice but wouldn’t say much more.
“There’s a chance I could be a jockey,” Zimmer sarcastically responded to if there is a chance the Vikings would be without Joseph on Sunday.
The Vikings are playing for their first NFC North title since 2009, and Zimmer said that could impact the decision to play Joseph. Any player that has missed all three practices leading up to gameday this season hasn’t played.
All other players — including running back Adrian Peterson, who returned to practice Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday — were listed probable.
Defensive end Everson Griffen (shoulder) also returned after sitting out Thursday. Left tackle Matt Kalil (lower leg), safety Harrison Smith (hamstring), safety Anthony Harris (hip) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (low back) all were listed as full participants.
Despite missing Friday’s practice, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) said he would play Sunday.
Joseph has been battling a toe injury over the past month and missed three games before returning Sunday for the Vikings’ 49-17 victory over the Giants. He briefly left the game in the first quarter but returned and played 31 of the 61 defensive snaps.
Moving over again?
Floyd is ready to return to nose tackle, if necessary.
“I didn’t practice, but no setback, nothing. I’m going to play,” Floyd said. “Duty calls. Whatever that may be, 3-technique, nose [tackle], whatever, however it pans out for us.”
Floyd, who usually anchors the 3-technique position, played nose tackle in Joseph’s absence and along the way voiced how difficult the role can be. He had 12 tackles and half a sack at the position.
Another option at nose tackle would be Kenrick Ellis. The fifth-year player was signed in late October and has seen limited action in eight games. He played 11 snaps Sunday.
With Joseph and Floyd sitting out Friday, Ellis said he would be ready to fill in as needed. Zimmer said he liked the way Ellis practiced Friday and that he is starting to get a hand of the defensive techniques.
Ellis admitted he can still learn a lot from Joseph.
“I just try to work as hard as him and try to mimic everything he does,” Ellis said. “… That’s like a big brother almost. We’re the same age, but he’s just that good that I try to learn from him.”
Catching up to Cobb
Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb have been engaged in a friendly rivalry since college.
Munnerlyn played at South Carolina from 2006 to ’08 and Cobb was at Kentucky from 2008 to ’10 before they met again in the NFL. Munnerlyn helped limit Cobb, one of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets, to two catches for 24 yards — one was a 10-yard touchdown — in their first meeting this season.
Munnerlyn expects to play another big role against Cobb on Sunday.
“That’s tough challenge for me. I know he’s a shifty guy,” Munnerlyn said. “That’s [Rodgers’] guy. So I’ve got to go out there and play big this week.”
Cobb said, “Captain, me and him have been having battles since college, so we have a pretty good understanding of each other and he’s a very strong physical guy there in the nickel, and he makes it difficult.”
Packers injury report
The Packers will be without linebacker Jayrone Elliott (quadriceps) and tight end Justin Perillo (hamstring). Left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle), defensive linemen Mike Daniels (groin) and B.J. Raji (concussion), linebacker Mike Neal (hip) and cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) are all questionable.
All other Green Bay players, including running back Eddie Lacy (rib) and linebacker Clay Matthews (ankle), are probable.