Sharrif Floyd is among the most eager to get Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph back in the lineup — he’d even give his toe for it.
“Losing him has been huge over the last few weeks,” Floyd said Tuesday at Winter Park. “I’ve been talking to [Joseph] every day [saying] ‘Please come back … I’ll give you my toe or at least give me 10 of your pounds, ’cause, boy, I respect your job.’ ”
Floyd has spent the past two weeks filling in for Joseph, out because of a toe injury, while Tom Johnson has taken over Floyd’s position at the three-technique tackle spot. The third-year tackle out of Florida has nine tackles during this stretch and has helped fill Joseph’s void at the center of the defensive line as best as possible.
“I don’t want to settle into the position, but I feel like it’s not a problem doing the job,” Floyd said. “Coach [Mike Zimmer] asked me to do something for the team and it’s going to get done. … Until the big dog gets healthy, I’ve got to be the big dog. It is some big shoes to fill and more so the technique than anything. It’s a tough duty.”
Before Joseph’s injury, he had established himself as one of the best tackles in the NFL this season and considered a Pro Bowl candidate. He missed practice again Tuesday, though no injury report was released by the Vikings.
With Joseph still sidelined, the Vikings worked out a pair of free-agent nose tackles, including Phil Taylor, a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Browns.
A source told the Star Tribune that the team has not decided whether to sign Taylor, 27, who was last listed as 6-3 and 335 pounds.
Taylor spent four seasons with the Browns, playing 44 games and recording 109 tackles and seven sacks before they released him after the preseason. He has since had tryouts with the Ravens and Steelers but did not sign with either team.
The Vikings also worked out nose tackle Euclid Cummings, according to ESPN 1500. He most recently played with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
Along with Floyd and Johnson, the Vikings have Kenrick Ellis at defensive tackle.
Cornerback Terence Newman didn’t get a chance to review film of his first start at safety last Thursday in a 23-20 loss to the Cardinals, but felt comfortable enough in the role to consider a future doing it full-time.
“All options are in play in the future,” he said. “I think [safety is] definitely easier [than cornerback]. You don’t have to run backward, shift your body backward if some dude is running full speed forward, so in that aspect it’s definitely easier. But it’s a lot different in checks. At corner you just line up and play against the guy. But safety, you’ve got all types of stuff, communications and checks and you have to move here and there. It’s fun for sure, but it can be mentally tougher than corner.”
Newman turned 37 in September and has been one of the Vikings’ most consistent defensive backs this season with 45 tackles, 11 pass breakups and three interceptions.
He’s back again
The Vikings planned to re-sign defensive end Justin Trattou before they waived him last Tuesday. He was let go to make room for safeties Anthony Harris and Shaun Prater, who were signed to fill in for the four injured safeties on the 53-man roster.
“Gotta do what you gotta do. They had zero [safeties] left. That’s what happens,” said Trattou, who received a call from another interested team during his few days of unemployment. “I had some interest, but I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. … I’m happy where I’m at.”
The Vikings waived Prater and re-signed Trattou on Monday.
The Vikings returned to practice Tuesday after four days off, but were still without their three best defensive players: Joseph, safety Harrison Smith (hamstring/knee) and linebacker Anthony Barr (groin/hand).
Smith and Barr stretched with the team, but didn’t participate in the portion of practice open to the media.
Safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) and linebacker Brandon Watts (ribs) returned to practice after missing the Cardinals game. Defensive end Scott Crichton (ankle) stretched with the team, but didn’t participate in warmup drills.
An official injury report will be released Wednesday after practice.
Staff reporters Matt Vensel and Mark Craig contributed to this report.