The two were suspended Tuesday by the NFL for four games apiece for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances, but a day later a judge in Hennepin County (Minn.) District Court granted them a temporary restraining order, allowing them to rejoin the team.
There is a possibility the NFL will get a full hearing Thursday, meaning the Williamses eligibility remains up in the air.
The Williamses were among six suspended for taking a product known as StarCaps, a weight-loss pill manufactured by California-based Balanced Health Products. An NFL-banned product known as Bumetanide was in the pills but not listed as an ingredient.
The loss of the "Williams Wall" would leave the Vikings without the two biggest reasons why they have the NFL's second-ranked run defense heading into Sunday's game at Lions.
The Vikings should be able to beat the 0-12 Lions no matter what happens, but their next three games are against Arizona (7-5), Atlanta (8-4) and the New York Giants (11-1). Without the Williamses, it would be a whole lot more difficult for the Vikings to win their first division title since they captured the old NFC Central in 2000.
If the Williamses don't play, it's likely that Fred Evans will start in place of Pat Williams at nose tackle and Ellis Wyms will start in place of Kevin Williams at the three-technique. The Vikings also signed veteran Jimmy Kennedy on Wednesday. He was released by Jacksonville last month and can play either the nose or 3-technique.
Replacing Kevin Williams would be especially tough. Wyms is an eight-year veteran who hasn't started a game since the 2006 season. He has three tackles and one sack in limited duty this season. Kevin Williams, meanwhile, is second on the Vikings with 8.5 sacks and third with 70 tackles. He also has 33 quarterback hurries, five passes defensed and five tackles for losses.
Pat Williams' stats aren't as impressive but his importance can't be downplayed. He was one of the main reasons the Vikings kept the Bears out of the end zone on four consecutive plays from the 1-yard line in the second quarter Sunday. Williams came up and tackled Bears running back Matt Forte on fourth-and-goal.
On the next play, Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte connected with Bernard Berrian on a 1-yard touchdown pass.
The loss of the Williamses also would leave the Vikings thin on the defensive line. The team got more bad news Tuesday when Brian Robison underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee. It's unclear how long he will be out.
"That's why it takes 53 guys on a team," coach Brad Childress said, speaking of the suspensions hours before the judge's ruling. "When you go through a season you know somewhere you're going to have adversity. If you have 53 people in your family, which I don't think anybody has that many siblings, maybe extended family, somewhere you're going to have issues whether they're family issues, physical issues, issues that you have to deal with and every year has those. Injuries.
"And so that's our deal to contend with and that's why you have a team and that's why you have to win in all three phases. You just expect those guys that are moving into those positions, Wyms and (Letroy) Guion and Fred Evans, to do a great job and everybody to do the job behind him. But that's where we're at and that's where we're headed."
SERIES HISTORY: 95th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 62-30-2, beating the Lions 12-10 on Oct. 12 at the Metrodome. Ryan Longwell's 26-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter provide the winning points.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 - The Vikings' NFL-leading total of blocked field goals this season. The team also leads the NFL with nine opposing team's missed field goals, including blocks.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It really doesn't matter what my thoughts are. It is what it is and we're staying right here in the now and right now we're not going to have them." - Coach Brad Childress when asked if he thought the four-game suspensions for Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams was fair.