To Start Or Deactivate?

With the injuries piled up, the Vikings are facing decisions all over the field. It will make for some interesting decisions on who to start and who to deactivate.

Mike Tice has been forced to make many decisions in his time as the Vikings head coach. But perhaps never has been faced with the sheer number of personnel decisions that he has this week heading into the Vikings' return from the bye with Sunday's game vs. the Texans.

Perhaps the most troubling will be at linebacker, where Keith Newman and Raonall Smith make their first starts as Vikings at the outside linebacker spots and Dontarrious Thomas, who has rarely even practiced much less played at middle linebacker in the pros, gets his first start at the position.

The Vikings are hopeful that the players can maintain their assignments and be productive, but the massive amount of injuries are beginning to take a toll on a team that has tested its depth to the extreme this season.

* Injured LB Chris Claiborne is expected back for next week's game vs. New Orleans.
* Chris Hovan's knee injury doesn't look serious, and VU has been told he will start Sunday but will likely be in much more of a time share with Steve Martin than he has been in recent weeks.
* Matt Birk practiced Friday, but primarily with the second team — an indication that Cory Withrow may end up getting the start at center this week.
* Moe Williams did not practice Friday but is expected to see limited action at a minimum Sunday. Mewelde Moore will get his first NFL start Sunday.
* Ralph Brown beat our Rushen Jones in the competition for the dime cornerback in the Vikings pass defense.
* Adam Goldberg won the competition to be the primary backup at the tackle and guard positions, beating out Adam Haayer. Haayer, who is likely to be deactivated Sunday.

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