Coach Mike Zimmer again suggested today that safety Harrison Smith, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and nose tackle Linval Joseph could be back in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Giants.

"I think they'll play," Zimmer said. "But I have no idea."

Zimmer said he assumes all three injured defenders will practice today, so that would seem to reinforce the notion that they are on track to return this weekend, though Smith and Joseph both got two practices in last week but did not play in the 38-17 win over the Bears.

He then made a playful comment about misleading the media recently.

"My present to you is to continue to be honest," he said with a grin.

Zimmer also said "everything I hear is good" about running back Adrian Peterson, who suffered a minor ankle injury against the Bears. Peterson added that he is confident he will be in the lineup against the Giants.

Barr, meanwhile, said this is "the best I've felt in a while" after missing the past two games with a groin injury. He says he will practice today.

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there today and having a good week of practice and getting back out there on Sunday," Barr said.

Then again, the Vikings might not need Barr or the others Sunday.

If the Seahawks win or the Falcons lose, they will clinch a playoff spot.

If the Packers lose to the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, the Sunday night game will have no bearing on the race for first place in the NFC North. As long as the Vikings are within one game of the Packers heading into Week 17, that game in Lambeau will be a winner-take-all showdown.

Zimmer acknowledged that he has thought about whether he will treat the game against the Giants any differently if it means virtually nothing.

"I've talked about it, thought about it. … I'm too much of a competitor in each game that I [would] want to fight," Zimmer said. "But I do want to be smart and that would be more so with the guys that are hurt or something like that. Our mindset is to go win both of these two games, play our guys, game plan and prepare and do everything that we do because I do think it's important. … If we happen to get in the playoffs, I think it's important that we continue to push to get to where we want to get to."

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Barr, Smith and Joseph all practice, Peterson among those sitting out