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Vikings roster moves: Center Brett Jones released; practice squad shuffled

The Vikings released center Brett Jones on Tuesday as the offense returned from the bye week with two interior offensive linemen, guards Pat Elflein (thumb) and Dru Samia (wrist), on the mend.

Elflein was designated to return from injured reserve on Monday and will practice this week for the first time since tearing a ligament in his thumb during practice on Sept. 17; Jones had been promoted to the active roster the following day. The veteran center is expected to be re-signed to the practice squad this week.

The Vikings now have an opening on the 53-man roster.

The Vikings also shuffled the practice squad again on Tuesday, cutting linebacker Cale Garrett, who had been with the team since Sept. 23 after Anthony Barr’s season-ending injury. They’ve since signed veteran linebacker Todd Davis as a contributor, and rookie Troy Dye (ankle) has been designated to return from I.R.

Cornerback Marcus Sayles was re-signed to the practice squad. Sayles, the former West Georgia and CFL cornerback, was an offseason signing previously waived in the middle of training camp.

Practice squad kicker Chase McLaughlin has been “protected” for the seventh straight game, meaning the Vikings are protected from McLaughlin accepting a job on another team’s 53-man roster. NFL teams can guard four players per week from taking promotions. They’ve kept the clamps on McLaughlin as insurance if kicker Dan Bailey is unavailable amid the pandemic.

Elflein, Dye return to practice, begin three-week IR window

The Vikings will get a couple reinforcements at practice upon returning from the bye week, as right guard Pat Elflein and linebacker Troy Dye have been cleared to take a step toward playing again.

The Vikings designated Elflein and Dye to return from injured reserve on Monday, meaning they’ve started a 21-day window during which both players can practice but will remain on I.R. until activated. The team must activate the player within three weeks, or the player remains on I.R. for the season.

Elflein was placed on injured reserve after tearing a ligament in his thumb during practice following the Week 1 loss to Green Bay. He’s missed five games already, replaced by Dru Samia in four starts and rookie Ezra Cleveland most recently in the loss to Atlanta.

Dye, the fourth-round rookie out of Oregon, injured his ankle in the Week 2 loss at Indianapolis. He could return to multiple roles on special teams. The Vikings’ deadline to activate Elflein and Dye is Monday, Nov. 16, when they’re scheduled to play in Chicago on Monday night.

The Vikings also filled the two roster spots with cornerbacks, promoting Mark Fields from the practice squad and claiming Chris Jones, a third-year player out of Nebraska, off waivers from the Detroit Loins.

Fields and Jones take the spots vacated by defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who was traded to the Ravens last week, and safety George Iloka, who tore an ACL in practice and was placed on injured reserve.

Jones, originally an undrafted signing by the Lions in 2018, has spent much of his early NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals, where he appeared in 14 games. Jones (6-foot, 200 pounds) was credited with six pass deflections last season, including three during a start against the Seahawks. Jones, waived by the Lions on Saturday, has started three games in his career.

The Vikings are dealing with a handful of injuries at cornerback, with Mike Hughes leaving the Oct. 18 loss to Atlanta after 13 snaps due to a recurring neck injury. Cornerbacks Kris Boyd (hamstring) has missed the past three games, while Holton Hill (foot) has been sidelined for the last two games.

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