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NFC Player of Week Linval Joseph: Vikings have 1 Heartbeat

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A pivotal play early and a huge stop late, combined with dominant moments throughout Sunday's game have secured Linval Joseph NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The way the six-year pro sees it, however, the award is about the work of 11, Joseph said on 11/11.

View images from the Wednesday, November 11 practice at Winter Park.

"I'm just humble and happy to get the award," Joseph said Wednesday. "At the end of the day, I'll give it to all my teammates because without them, I never would have gotten this award because we have to play together. By us playing together, it gave me the opportunity to make plays. Without them, I never would have gotten this award."

Legendary Star Tribune reporter opened the media session with Joseph with, "How come the Giants didn't keep you?"

"I don't know. You know how this game goes," Joseph said. "Everybody can't stay on one team."

Joseph was drafted by the Giants in the second round in 2010. He was part of a team that won Super Bowl XLVI after the 2011 season and was pursued with high priority by the Vikings during free agency in 2014.

"The atmosphere that we have on this team is the same atmosphere as was on the Giants team when we won the Super Bowl," Joseph said. "It's a great feeling right now in this locker room. I'm glad we're winning. Everybody is doing their job and that's what it takes: everybody with one heartbeat."

Joseph said he's benefitting from a second year in the system and teammates who are doing their jobs.

"Things are a little easier for me to recognize," Joseph said. "Everyone is falling into place right now. We all love [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer. Zimmer is a good guy. He coaches small ball. Everybody is just in tune and in sync, and we just want to keep winning."

Often tasked with dirty work as a nose tackle, Joseph was credited with 10 tackles (7 solo), 0.5 sacks, 3 TFLs and 2 pressures in the victory. The 10 combined tackles from Joseph tied for the most by a defensive tackle in a game this season (John Jenkins, New Orleans).

Zimmer recently said Joseph might be the best defensive tackle he's coached, but added Wednesday that the 6-foot-4, 329-pounder can keep progressing.

"The thing I like most about him is the way he works and has fun every single day," Zimmer said. "He's just trying to get better. He's obviously talented athletically with his size and speed and strength, but he's a good worker and he cares about his teammates. He cares about doing things right and even when he's doing the scout team or sometimes we have him when the other guys go down, he runs routes, he runs them full speed. He's a good kid to have around."

Joseph is Minnesota's first defensive tackle since Kevin Williams in 2004 to win the award and first nose tackle to claim the honor.

He was instrumental in stopping Todd Gurley on a two-point conversion in the first quarter and tackled him for a 6-yard loss on the first play of overtime in the Vikings 21-18 victory over the Rams.

Joseph's 26 solo tackles in 2015 also currently leads the league among all defensive tackles.

The Vikings have gone back-to-back with walk-off wins on the foot of Blair Walsh and have had players claim consecutive conference honors.

Marcus Sherels was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after helping the Vikings beat the Bears in Chicago with a 65-yard punt return TD.

The Vikings have eight players on the roster who have earned a total of 16 conference awards:

Defense

Joseph, Anthony Barr and Chad Greenway

Offense

Adrian Peterson, seven times

Special teams

Cordarrelle Patterson, Marcus Sherels, Adam Thielen and Blair Walsh (three times)

Hall of Famer John Randle was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week five times, and DT Keith Millard was the first Vikings DT to claim the honor in 1989.

Barr was the most recent Vikings defender to claim the honor when he forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown last season at Tampa Bay.

In order to make room on the 53-man roster for Robinson, the Vikings waived tight end Chase Ford.

New in town: Veteran Jason Trusnik practiced with the Vikings for the first time on Wednesday, a day after he was signed and Audie Cole was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Trusnik played collegiately for the Ohio Northern Polar Bears (Division III) before entering the NFL in 2007 with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent. He has 109 games of experience with the Jets, Browns and Dolphins after beginning his career on special teams.

That's kind of been my forte in the NFL," Trusnick said. "That's how I got into the league, starting on special teams and working my way up. From team to team, everybody has different thoughts, ideas from coach to coach, but at the end of the day, special teams is do your job, fly around the field and get the guy with the ball. I'm pretty confident I know how to do that."

Trusnik was with Carolina this offseason after spending the previous four seasons in Miami, where Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards was his position coach 2012-13.

"It should be a pretty smooth transition for me," Trusnik said. "As far as George goes, I have a lot of respect for him and what he did down there as my linebackers coach. He's a great guy, a great coach, and I'm excited to be back with him again."

Robinson returns: The Vikings activated Josh Robinson on Wednesday, moving him off the physically unable to perform list. Robinson opened the season rehabbing a torn pectoral muscle.

"Josh is somebody that's been coaching me ever since I got here, helping me out just like the other guys," Trae Waynes said. "We're happy to have him back."

Injury reports: For the Vikings: Anthony Barr (hand) and Eric Kendricks (ribs) did not participate. Teddy Bridgewater was limited as he progresses from a concussion. Terence Newman also was limited while he is in the concussion protocol. Marcus Sherels (shoulder), Sharrif Floyd (knee/ankle), Joseph (foot) and Justin Trattou also were limited. Brian Robison (ankle) was listed as a full participant.

For the Raiders, LB Neiron Bell (knee), WR Amari Cooper (quad), C Rodney Hudon (ankle), RB Latavius Murray (concussion), and S Charles Woodson (shoulder) were all held out of Wednesday's practice. CB TJ Carrie (hip) and TE Clive Walford (quad) were full participants.

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