Vikings might have their top defensive tackles back for Detroit
Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson haven’t played together since October loss to Cleveland.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings signed Dalvin Tomlinson last spring to play beside Michael Pierce in the middle of their defensive line, but through 12 weeks they’ve only shared the field four times. That appears set to change Sunday in Detroit.
Pierce was activated from injured reserve on Wednesday and it appears he’ll play in his first game since injuring an elbow in a 14-7 loss to Cleveland on Oct. 3. Tomlinson, who missed last week’s 34-26 loss at San Francisco, was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.
Pierce was a full participant and Tomlinson a limited participant in Thursday’s practice at TCO Performance Center.
“It would be big. Those are two really stout run defenders,” co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer said. “We’ve mix and matched a bunch of guys in there since they’ve been out, and truth be told, we miss them. And I know the linebackers miss them. … It would be huge to get those guys back.”
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Pierce signed before the 2020 COVID season and opted to sit out. He had two sacks in this year’s season opener at Cincinnati. Since he went down, the Vikings have used third-year player Armon Watts and second-year player James Lynch to fill holes beside veteran Sheldon Richardson inside — although Richardson was used as an end against the 49ers because of Everson Griffen’s absence.
Watts has four sacks and 24 tackles in his past six games. Richardson (knee) was a limited participant in practice Thursday.
Last week, the 49ers used their running game to set the tone. They rushed for 208 yards on 39 carries and held the ball for 14 minutes and 14 seconds more than Minnesota.
Peterson remains out
Cornerback Patrick Peterson wasn’t at practice on Thursday while on the reserve/COVID-19 list but remains a slim possibility to play against the Lions.
Because he’s vaccinated, Peterson does not have to quarantine for 10 days under NFL protocols and can return with consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
“Well, we hope,” Zimmer said. “He’s in the COVID protocol. I don’t exactly know what he has to do to get back. I’m hoping he can, and we’ll find out soon enough, hopefully.”
Linebacker Anthony Barr took part in some drills on Thursday but was listed as not practicing on the team’s official injury report because of knee and hamstring injuries. Likewise, fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks (biceps).
Offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (ankle) and safety Camryn Bynum (ankle) did light drills before leaving the field. Running back Dalvin Cook, who left Sunday’s loss at San Francisco with a separated shoulder, was not present.
Receiver Justin Jefferson was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November. He led the NFL with 464 receiving yards on 24 receptions and three receiving touchdowns. Only Cris Carter and Jake Reed have ever won the award for the Vikings — and surprisingly never Randy Moss. “We need to be better as a team,” Jefferson said. “Player of the month is cool, but I’d rather get wins.”