With Ray Edwards
suspended for four games and Erasmus James
nursing a knee injury, the Vikings stand to be shorthanded at right defensive end for Sunday's game at San Francisco.
Minnesota took a step to add some depth on Thursday, signing second-year player Otis Grigsby
off the Carolina practice squad, but it's likely that rookie Brian Robison
and Jayme Mitchell
will be asked to play significant roles against the 49ers.
The news about Edwards' suspension for violating the NFL's steroid policy came out Wednesday.
Edwards leads the Vikings with five sacks and started the first 11 games. Interestingly, James got his first start of the year last Sunday against Detroit, but coach Brad Childress said that was not related to any off-the-field issues with Edwards.
James, though, hasn't practiced this week because of a sore left knee. That's the same knee he had surgically repaired last year after being injured in the second game of the season.
Childress would not divulge any information about James' condition Thursday, saying he would discuss the subject Friday.
The Vikings could look to move left end Kenechi Udeze
to the right side. Udeze, however, is a much better fit at base end and did not have a sack last season after replacing James.
Robison, meanwhile, has 4.5 sacks to rank second among NFL rookies. A fourth-round pick out of Texas
, Robison also has 13 quarterback hurries.
S Mike Doss did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a hamstring injury suffered Sunday against Detroit.
WR Robert Ferguson returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday because of a personal issue.
LB E.J. Henderson missed practice Wednesday and Thursday because of illness.
OL Artis Hicks suffered back spasms near the end of Thursday's practice. He had taken part in the entire practice.
DT Spencer Johnson missed a portion of Wednesday and Thursday's practice because of a groin injury.
RB Adrian Peterson was held out of a portion of Wednesday and Thursday's practice to rest his knee. Peterson played last Sunday against Detroit and is being rested simply for precautionary reasons.
LB Dontarrious Thomas took part in only a portion of practice again Thursday as he continues to recover from a groin injury that kept him out last Sunday.
S Tank Williams did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of an MCL injury that kept him out last Sunday.
WR Troy Williamson returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis after sitting out last Sunday because of a concussion. He was limited again Thursday.
CB Antoine Winfield took part in a portion of practice Wednesday and Thursday and expects to return Sunday after missing four of the past five games because of a hamstring injury.
The four-game suspension of Ray Edwards and another injury for Erasmus James leaves the Vikings likely starting a rookie at right defensive end.
Edwards' suspension, James' injury has the Vikings likely starting a rookie at right defensive end.