Tight end Irv Smith Jr. will make it a one-game absence as he’s set to return Sunday against the Cowboys from a groin injury.
Smith caught two touchdowns in his last appearance against the Lions on Nov. 8, when he exited after the second scoring grab due to a pulled groin. He will play against Dallas after limited practices this week and a questionable designation.
Cornerback Cameron Dantzler is also set to return from a two-game absence. He’s been cleared through the concussion protocol after the Nov. 1 collision that left him strapped to a backboard at Lambeau Field.
Big shakeups on special teams include the scratch of long snapper Austin Cutting, whose issues bottomed out in Chicago, replacing him with veteran Andrew DePaola, who signed this week and was elevated from the practice squad.
DePaola, 33, hasn’t snapped in an NFL game since September 2018, when he tore his ACL. The Rutgers product was released by the Raiders a year later and he sat out the 2019 season.
The Vikings also deactivated rookie Dan Chisena, the receiver who leads the team in special teams snaps but has also struggled. He will not play vs. the Cowboys.
Guard Brett Jones will make his first NFL start since 2018, and his first at guard since 2017, while replacing rookie Ezra Cleveland at right guard on Sunday. Cleveland suffered an ankle injury in the first series against the Bears last week. While he played through the injury in Chicago, Cleveland couldn’t practice this week and will not be available.
With Jones starting, the Vikings’ backup offensive linemen will be tackle Rashod Hill, tackle/guard Oli Udoh and tackle/guard Aviante Collins, who was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday.
Fullback C.J. Ham will be available after being activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday. He was quarantined this week because he was a close contact with an infected individual.
Vikings’ inactives: Cleveland (ankle), Cutting, WR Tajae Sharpe, DE Jordan Brailford, WR Dan Chisena, S Curtis Riley and CB Dylan Mabin
Cowboys’ inactives: LB Justin March, DE Bradlee Anae, DL Ron’Dell Carter, S Reggie Robinson, OT Greg Senat, WR Malik Turner and QB Ben DiNucci
The Cowboys are reportedly making a change up front to an injury-ravaged offensive line, moving All-Pro guard Zack Martin out to right tackle against the Vikings.
Dallas will have both defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory; they’re active after being listed questionable due to illnesses.