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Zimmer: 'Good possibility' Barr, Joseph, Smith return this week

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The Vikings found out Monday they likely won't have to go up against the Giants' biggest offensive weapon in Odell Beckham Jr., and it sounds like they could get some good news to help their defense later in the week.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters there's a good possibility the three injured defensive players could be back on the field Sunday night when the Vikings host the Giants.

"There's a good possibility, they're getting pretty close," Zimmer said Monday. "We'll just see."

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph, linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith all missed Sunday's 38-17 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Zimmer added that Joseph, who has been out with a foot injury, was nearly able to return for the Bears game. But according to ESPN, the Vikings decided to hold him out on Saturday because of a risk of re-injury.

Smith has been out with a hamstring injury. He said last Friday his leg wasn't where he wanted it to be, and Barr hasn't played since reaggravating a groin injury.

While Zimmer would love to have those guys back in the fold, he said Monday he thought their absence has been good for the team.

"I think it's good for this football team when they see guys who haven't played a lot step in and perform the way they have performed. I think it gives everybody confidence that guys can go in and be effective."

Minnesota's defense had its best game Sunday without the injured starters. They held the Bears to 17 points and 293 yards while forcing two Chicago turnovers. Zimmer thought it was a better performance than against Arizona, although there's still some room for improvement.

"We still had a couple of mistakes. The touchdown to Jeffery was a mistake, but there was probably less of that this week than before," said Zimmer.

Sunday's kickoff for the game against the Giants is at 7:30 p.m.

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