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Linval Joseph misses second practice; could be out vs. Seahawks

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph didn't practice for the second straight day on Thursday with a foot injury, and his status could be in doubt for Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

According to a league source, Joseph's injury is not serious, but he could be hard-pressed to play on Sunday against the Seahawks. That could be a difficult loss for the Vikings to handle against Seahawks bruiser Thomas Rawls, considering what Joseph has meant to their interior run defense this season.

Linebacker Anthony Barr also did not practice with a groin injury, leaving after the Vikings' team stretch at the start of practice. Safety Harrison Smith was also limited as he works back from a knee injury. Smith was with the first-team defense in drills during the open portion of practice on Thursday, but if neither he nor Barr is 100 percent, and Joseph ends up missing Sunday's game, the Vikings' run defense could be tested.

If Joseph were to miss the game, Sharrif Floyd figures to start at nose tackle, with Tom Johnson taking his spot at the three-technique tackle and Kenrick Ellis spelling both players. Floyd would make his first start at nose tackle.

"He’s doing all right,” coach Mike Zimmer said of Floyd at nose. “It’s a different technique, really at the end of the day. Nose and three technique have different techniques.”

Johnson was acquired mainly for his pass-rushing ability, and is more of a slippery player than he is a stout run blocker. But with the Seahawks' zone blocking scheme -- where offensive linemen will be trying to get to the second level of the defense rather than tying up linemen -- Johnson could find a better matchup.

"This team is a big zone-blocking team,” Zimmer said. "He will be coming off the rear ends as opposed to trying to hang in there and play the double teams and things like that.”

Zimmer already sounded concerned about the ways quarterback Russell Wilson could stress the Vikings' defense on Sunday; they've struggled against quarterbacks who can escape the pocket, and it will be especially important for the Vikings to contain Wilson if their interior run defense isn't at full strength.

"[Wilson affects] the defense a lot," Zimmer said. "It's not just [as a runner]. It's in the passing game, as well. You might have a free guy that he avoids, and scrambles, and the receivers do a good job taking off. Any time you play a running quarterback, you play the run. It affects your coverages, it affects your running [defense]. It's really a lot of things."

The Vikings were also without safety Andrew Sendejo again on Thursday. Safety Robert Blanton was a full participant with an ankle injury, though safety Antone Exum could get another start next to Smith. Cornerback Trae Waynes also practiced in full with an ankle injury.