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Vikings elevate defensive tackle T.J. Smith, safety Myles Dorn from practice squad

The Vikings will enter Sunday’s game without their four preferred starting defensive linemen.

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Seeking depth on defense, the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday elevated defensive tackle T.J. Smith and safety Myles Dorn off the practice squad for Sunday’s game at San Francisco.

The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Smith will provide help with three-technique defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson being out while on the COVID-19 reserve list. Smith is in line to make his NFL debut after being undrafted in 2020 out of Arkansas, spending last season on the Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad and being signed to Minnesota’s squad on Oct. 5.

Dorn, who was activated as a COVID replacement player, could be the Vikings’ top reserve safety due to Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus both being listed as questionable for Sunday. For Friday’s practice, Bynum sat out because of an ankle injury, and Metellus returned after being on the COVID list.

The Vikings will enter Sunday’s game without their four preferred starting defensive linemen. In addition to Tomlinson being out, defensive end Everson Griffen was put on the non-football illness list on Friday, defensive end Danielle Hunter was lost for the season on Oct. 31 due to a torn pectoral muscle, and nose tackle Michael Pierce will miss his seventh straight game while on injured reserve with an elbow injury.

To make up for the loss of Griffen, the Vikings could move Sheldon Richardson over from defensive tackle, and they plucked Tashawn Bower off New England’s practice squad last Wednesday for a second Minnesota stint. Richardson looked good at defensive end while playing about half of his 34 snaps there in last Sunday’s 34-31 win over Green Bay.

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“He’s a big guy, so that kind of helps in some of the situations,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Friday about the 6-3, 290-pound Richardson. “Last week he had a pretty good pass rush. Yeah, we’ve just got to manufacture him for what we’re doing.”

Bower practiced with the Vikings on Thursday and Friday after previously having been with them from 2017-19. He’s likely on Sunday to get his first snaps for them since Nov. 25, 2018 against Green Bay.

Briefly

The NFL fined Green Bay defensive end Kingsley Keke $5,157 for a roughing-the-passer call in the second quarter last Sunday on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, a source said. The penalty nullified an interception by Packers safety Darnell Savage, and three plays later Cousins threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen. … Vikings running back Dalvin Cook lauded wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after catching eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers. “He has that positive mindset to go out there and turn it loose. … That’s why he’s the GOAT,” Cook said.

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