Middle Linebacker Picture Still Unclear

Napoleon Harris

It doesn't appear that Napoleon Harris will be able to play Sunday in San Francisco because of a dislocated wrist, meaning Dontarrious Thomas is likely to start at one of the linebacker positions.

The Vikings likely won't have starting middle linebacker Napoleon Harris for Sunday's game at San Francisco.

Harris dislocated his left wrist in a 31-7 loss to New England on Monday night and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He also has not been in the locker room during the media access period.

The Vikings are doing their best to keep a lid on injury information and have listed Harris as questionable (50-50 chance of playing). But that designation means little.

Receiver Marcus Robinson, who missed Monday's game because of a lower back injury, was listed as questionable all of last week and might not even play again Sunday.

With Harris out, the Vikings have given snaps to backup Dontarrious Thomas in the middle and have shifted strong-side linebacker Ben Leber over to that spot at times. In those instances, Thomas moves to the strong side.

"I'm preparing myself like I'm going to start," Thomas said. "But I do that every week."

The Vikings also re-signed third-year linebacker Rod Davis this week to give them added depth in the middle. Davis has received limited snaps but was signed mainly because of his ability to play on special teams.

The ability of the Vikings' linebackers to move around comes as no surprise considering the emphasis first-year defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin puts on flexibility. Thomas, for instance, had never played strong-side linebacker before this season, but in Week 4 he started in place of the injured Leber.

"We've preached position flexibility from day one, and it's for reasons like this," Tomlin said. "This is the National Football League. You've got a 53-man roster. Guys get injured. It's the nature of the business. The more flexibility you have in terms of guys playing multiple positions, the better chances you have to put your best 11 on the field, so to speak. That's been our approach. We've got some guys working there, and that picture will continue to clear itself up as the week goes on."


NOTES

  • WR Marcus Robinson (lower back) did not practice again Thursday and remains listed as questionable on the injury report. It appears a longshot he will play Sunday at San Francisco.

  • NT Pat Williams (knee) is questionable and missed at least a portion of practice Thursday. He is expected to play Sunday.

  • DT Kevin Williams (high ankle sprain) is questionable and missed at least a portion of practice Thursday. Williams has said he will play Sunday.

  • C Matt Birk (hyperextended knee) is questionable and missed at least a portion of practice Thursday. He isn't expected to miss Sunday's game.

  • LB Ben Leber (illness) is probable and missed at least a portion of practice. He was in the locker room during the post-practice media access period, something that did not occur Wednesday.

  • RG Artis Hicks (neck) is probable and missed at least a portion of practice Thursday.

  • RT Marcus Johnson (ankle) is probable and missed at least a portion of practice Thursday.

  • S Darren Sharper (knee) is probable and missed at least a portion of practice Thursday.

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