DT Dalvin Tomlinson among injured Vikings players working toward a return to action

With two games in five days next week — the Vikings host the Cowboys on Sunday and the Patriots on Thanksgiving night — and coming off a physically and emotionally draining win in Buffalo, head coach Kevin O’Connell scaled back the intensity of Wednesday’s practice.

But three players, left tackle Christian Darrisaw, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and cornerback Akayleb Evans, were held out.

“We actually probably got almost two times the reps we normally would have,” O’Connell said Wednesday after the session, “just in a little bit more of the walkthrough setting and locking these guys in mentally.”

O’Connell said he will have the Vikings in full pads for Thursday’s practice, when there will be a better indication on the possible return of Tomlinson, who hasn’t practiced or played since suffering a right calf injury Oct. 30 against the Cardinals. Nose tackle James Lynch continues to see a bigger role in Tomlinson’s stead.

“Still working his way back,” O’Connell said of Tomlinson. “He’s really itching to get back out there, but we want to make sure when he comes back he’s ultimately at his best and ready to roll for what we hope is a long stretch here.”

Darrisaw and Evans remain in the concussion protocol. While players have made a one-week turnaround to play, they can’t return until gaining clearance through gradually increased exercises, which limits their practice participation the week after the injury.

Edge rusher Za’Darius Smith (knee) and receiver Justin Jefferson (toe) were limited.

Cornerback Cameron Dantzler was out of the walking boot on his sprained left ankle suffered Nov. 6 in Washington and said Wednesday he expected to be available to play again Dec. 11 in Detroit after the minimum four-game stay on injured reserve.

The Cowboys practiced without edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence (foot), who played 46 snaps against the Packers last week. Former Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring) returned to practice and was limited after being held out in Green Bay.

‘Taking the coaching’

Running back Dalvin Cook credited Jefferson’s personal adjustment that helped set up his 81-yard touchdown run against the Bills, which marked the longest run of Cook’s six-year NFL career. Cook said Jefferson, who blocked a Bills defensive back to spring Cook, took pointers about run blocking before the play.

“Earlier in the game, we had a play like that and JJ was kind of indecisive about who to block,” Cook said. “We made a correction and JJ did a great job of taking the coaching to the field and making that block. That was the more unique part about it.”

Jefferson named NFC Player of Week 10

Jefferson became the fourth Vikings player — and their first on offense — to be named NFC Player of the Week after his career-high 193 yards, including 32 yards immortalized with a one-handed grab on fourth down in the win at Buffalo. Jefferson also had a touchdown, a 22-yard leaping grab over a Bills cornerback, within 10 catches.

Jefferson needs 88 yards against the Cowboys on Sunday to tie Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill for the league lead (Miami is on a bye this week) and surpass Randy Moss for the most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons. This will be Jefferson’s 43rd career game while Moss established the mark in 48 games.

Etc.

  • Cook said he stands with players’ union messaging calling for the removal of a type of artificial turf called “slit-film” turf, which purportedly can cause more leg injuries and is in six NFL stadiums, including U.S. Bank Stadium. “Everybody wants entertainment from us,” Cook said, “so put us in the safest environment to go do that.”
  • Former Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph signed with the Eagles on Wednesday. The 34-year-old Joseph started 93 games for Minnesota (including five playoff starts) from 2014-2019.