When the season hangs in the balance, there's not time for players to be on the sideline. That would seem to be the mindset of the Vikings heading into Friday's game with the Packers.
Injured veterans Matt Birk, Antoine Winfield and Bryant McKinnie are all expected back -- only adding to the hype surrounding this important divisional game -- which has enormous playoff implications.
Birk has missed a month with a sports hernia injury that sidelined him at the start of the season, while Winfield has missed two games with an ankle sprain. McKinnie hasn't missed a start, but had to be replaced for much of the second half Sunday by rookie Nat Dorsey because of back spasms.
Despite being ravaged by injuries, this will be as healthy as the Vikings have been in weeks and the Packers will have to bring their best, because it looks like the Vikings will bring theirs.
* The Vikings still haven't released Derek Ross, which may or may not happen today. The plan is to sign Rushen Jones, but Ross' future may not be slated after all. There is a chance Rhett Nelson may be released and re-signed to the practice squad.
* Nelson may go back to the practice squad because of an unexpected opening created Monday when the Lions signed CB Mike Echols off the Vikings practice squad.
* Three weeks after vowing Onterrio Smith would be the featured back the rest of the season, Mike Tice announced Michael Bennett will start Friday's game.
Putting The Band Back Together
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