Vikings center Pat Elflein won't start, according to coach Mike Zimmer, but he'll make his debut Sunday against the Bills after being sidelined throughout training camp, the preseason and first two games of the regular season.
The start to Elflein's second season was delayed because of lingering ailments following offseason shoulder and ankle surgeries. He's still listed with both on the Vikings' injury report but was able to practice in full this week for the first time.
"It's the best I've felt since last season," Elflein said Friday.
The Vikings "have a role for him," Zimmer said, but center Brett Jones is expected to get his third straight start and likely cede reps to Elflein at some point in the game.
The next hurdle for the 24-year-old Elflein is taking live contact for the first time since January. Elflein insisted there were "no setbacks" with his rehab this summer, but he was still sidelined longer than the Vikings anticipated.
"Yeah, it's frustrating, you know you want to go as fast as possible," Elflein said. "There are certain protocols you have to follow with doctors and all that. But, I'm feeling great now."
Elflein started 16 games last season as a rookie, missing two starts because of the December shoulder injury.
"I've tried to do extra reps to almost simulate a game," Elflein said. "I didn't go through camp as well, so you've got some ground to make up. You try to revert back to the experience you had, and luckily, I had some last year. I can lean on that a little bit."
Cook, Griffen ruled out
Running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) insists he'll be ready to go next Thursday at the Rams, but he has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Bills. Cook did not practice this week after injuring his hamstring in overtime in Green Bay.
Defensive end Everson Griffen (knee) has also been ruled out against the Bills after he was missing from practices this week. Griffen was seen around the Vikings' Eagan facilities but did not practice after playing 69 snaps against the Packers.
Tight end David Morgan (knee) and punt returner Marcus Sherels (ribs) have also been ruled out. Running back Mike Boone (groin) is listed as questionable. Right tackle Rashod Hill (foot) is expected to play despite being held out of one practice this week.
Running back Latavius Murray will get his first start Sunday since the NFC Championship Game loss in Philadelphia. Murray has averaged 4.1 yards per carry in a limited role this season. He said the Vikings' running game can improve.
"The explosive runs haven't been there," Murray said. "I don't think the numbers have been there, but I think we've been doing some good things."
• Safety Andrew Sendejo was fined $53,482 for his hit on Packers receiver Davante Adams that was flagged as unnecessary roughness, a league source told the Star Tribune.
• Defensive back Jack Tocho was released off the practice squad/injured list this week, freeing up coveted space for the cap-strapped Vikings. The Vikings currently have about $150,000 in salary cap space after three veteran additions this week, according to sources with access to NFLPA salary data.
• Forbes released its annual NFL valuation estimates by team, and the Vikings checked in as the 19th most valuable NFL franchise worth an estimated $2.4 billion. That's nearly $2 billion more than the reported $600 million the Wilf family spent for the team in 2005.