Banged up Vikings healing, Smith vows a return this season

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Of the many surprising things about the VIkings' 34-27 over Washington last Thursday, one was that they pulled out a victory with a number of players sidelined with injuries.

Some of those are beginning to heal. The Pioneer Press reports "several players returned to practice Monday and declared themselves fit for duty."

The big deal is the leaky secondary, and safety Jamarca Sanford, who has missed two weeks with a groin injury, says he's ready to go. Cornerback Chris Cook has also been out two weeks with a hip injury, and he appears ready to play as well. Ditto left guard Charlie Johnson, who was sidelined for the first time in two and a half seasons with a bad elbow.

The bummer is right tackle Phil Loadholt has not been cleared to resume practicing after suffering a concussion Nov. 4 at Dallas.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who has a fractured foot, is off crutches and in a walking boot.

Perhaps the hardest blow to the Vikings, at least to the defense, is the turf toe injury to safety Harrison Smith, maybe the hardest hitter on the club. He was hurt in the Oct. 13 game against the Carolina Panthers. Looked like he might need surgery, but he said to heck with that and decided to let it heal on its own.

ESPN reports Smith said on Monday night his foot is healing well, and he is still optimistic he can return this season without needing surgery for turf toe.

The Pioneer Press says he will test his injured toe when he is able to return to practice in two weeks. Smith is on the injured reserve list. The soonest Smith can return from the injured list to play is Dec. 15 against Philadelphia. If he's healthy, he can play in Minnesota's last three games.

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