Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph was honored as the team’s defensive player of the year Sunday night at the Minnesota Football Honors. He ended the season with 56 tackles, half a sack, one forced fumble and one pass deflection. They are not eye popping stats, but what makes Joseph so important is all the dirty work he does along the line.
He is usually the player taking on multiple blockers in order to free up his teammates so they can make the play. Those plays never show up in the stat book, so he might not always get the recognition that other players on the team will receive, but that has never bothered him.
Joseph is a team-first player, but he did say it was nice to receive the award.
“It feels great,” he said. “Like I said at the beginning of last season, it’s hard work to get what we are trying to accomplish and trying to get, and I’m just glad that as a whole team because without the team I wouldn’t have gotten that award. Linebackers doing their job, defensive ends doing their job and making the ball come back to me. So like I said, this award is for the team, but I’m just glad and honored with it.”
Even though Joseph had a good season last year, it could have been much better. He missed four games because of turf toe and even when he was in games later in the season you could tell that he was not his normal self. That was the first time he ever had that type of injury and joked around that it usually happens to skill-position players, not linemen.
“Normally running backs or skill guys. I guess I’m a skill guy,” he said with a laugh.
Joseph said that he has spent his offseason in Minnesota rehabbing and working out at the Vikings practice facilities and now the toe is “almost to 100” percent. Because the injury was so painful he could not do a lot of work last year and tried to just rest.
Now he is back in the weight room trying his best to be ready for the team’s offseason workouts, but he knows that he can’t rush into everything. Instead, he is just going to try to ease himself back into the flow of things.
“We’ll see, that’s the goal,” he said about being able to practice at full speed right away. “After an injury you just want to build your way up and that’s what I’m trying to do.”