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Linval Joseph: 'I really haven't lost a beat'

Linval Joseph told reporters this week that he's feeling better than he has in quite some time. Joseph is trying to hit the field for the first time this month, after suffering a foot injury at Atlanta Nov. 29.

Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune caught up with Joseph for an update on his status as the Giants (6-8), the organization that drafted him, prepares to visit the Vikings (9-5) for Sunday Night Football.

"I'm just glad to be back, I really am," Joseph told Hartman. "I missed three weeks, and I'm just glad to be back on the field with my guys."

View images of the key contributors on the New York Giants.

*The 6-foot-4, 329-pound Joseph said he doesn't even know exactly how he got hurt but said that's part of playing in the NFL. *

"Those types of things just happen," he said. "I feel like I was on the field, fell down, I tried to get up to walk and couldn't walk."

*In terms of how he feels now, Joseph said he was able to maintain workouts so he thinks he can get right back into playing condition. *

"Actually it has felt pretty good [this week]," Joseph said. "It felt pretty good. I feel like I really haven't lost a beat. My conditioning, I've been training and doing everything to stay where I'm at now, and I'm just glad to be back."

Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press also featured Joseph this week, writing that the six-year pro is "arguably the NFL's best run-stuffer" at nose tackle. Many inside and outside of Winter Park thought Joseph was one of the most-deserving Vikings players to be snubbed.

"I've been out for three weeks," Joseph told Murphy. "The Pro Bowl got taken away from me. I just want to go back on the field, do my job and be with my boys."

Perhaps no Minnesota defender personifies the *selfless drive for collective success than Joseph. So much pivots off his ability to penetrate and disrupt offenses. *

Murphy wrote Joseph is "an athletic marvel in strength and quickness."

"He's probably one of the strongest human beings I've ever been around," defensive end Brian Robison told Murphy.

Initial impact

Danielle Hunter's 1.5 sacks against the Chicago Bears giving the NFL's youngest player a total of 5.0 this season to lead all rookies. In his weekly deeper look at stats, Matt Vensel of the *Star Tribune *noted that Hunter is one of 10 players to ever record 5.0 sacks in their "age-21 season."

According to Pro Football Reference, only 10 players, including Hunter, have had five-plus sacks in their age-21 season. The list includes Terrell Suggs, Shawne Merriman and Robert Quinn. He is a long way from Suggs, though. Suggs had a dozen sacks in his rookie year. **

History of back-to-back

If the playoffs started today, Minnesota would be visiting Green Bay for a Wild Card game. That scenario, could hold true, but it depends on what the Vikings do against the Giants after the Packers visit the Cardinals. If the border rivals are within a game of each other heading into Week 17 at Lambeau Field, the winner will claim the NFC North and host the team that winds up as the sixth seed. Green Bay has a tiebreaker on Seattle, and the Seahawks have an edge on the Vikings should either wind up in a tie for the standings.

The Associated Press found some interesting numbers on teams meeting in the regular season and following with a postseason encore:

—18: Number of times teams met in the last game of the regular season and first game of postseason, according to STATS.

—1943: Year of first such a meeting. The Giants beat the Redskins 31-7 before Washington beat New York 28-0 in the playoff rematch.

—3: Number of back-to-back meetings in the 2009 season. While Arizona split with Green Bay, the Dallas Cowboys won both matchups with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Jets won both games against Cincinnati.

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