For the first time in about a month, the Vikings look like they'll have about as many healthy players as they have had all season.
The team has been using its preparation time for the Saints Sunday getting injured bodies back in the lineup. Matt Birk, Jermaine Wiggins and Chris Claiborne — all of whom have been sidelined since before the bye week — have returned to practice and are expected to start.
Birk, who had never missed a game prior to this season, has been sidelined twice, once with a hernia and once with a knee injury. Claiborne, who is no stranger to missing time due to injury, returns with a specialized knee brace. Wiggins, who suffered a freak broken hand injury, said he's eager to take back his starting job.
With all the players that have been dropping like flies around the league, the Vikings are one of the rarities that got good injury news this week — some those that have been gone are coming back.
* Michael Bennett and E.J. Henderson both worked out with the training staff Thursday and are targeting next week's game vs. Tennessee for their return.
* As expected, linebacker Max Yates was re-signed to the practice squad.
* The Saints will be targeting third down as one of their biggest concerns. On the season, the Saints offense has converted just 27 percent of their third-down opportunities (17 of 63). By contrast, the Vikings have converted 52.1 percent (25 of 48).
* Including playoffs, the Vikings have won 17 of the 24 games played between the teams, including a 32-31 thriller in 2002 that snapped a 16-game road losing streak.
Injured Players Finally Returning
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