Vikings nose tackle Michael Pierce has been designated to return to practice, the team announced on Wednesday.
Pierce has missed the last seven games with an elbow injury. For a while, the Vikings didn't think the injury was that serious and believed Pierce would be back after their bye in Week 7. But when it became apparent that he was still a ways away, they placed him on injured reserve.
Having now missed the minimum three games on IR, Pierce is eligible to return to practice and potentially play this Sunday against the Lions. This move starts a 21-day clock for his official activation from IR.
There's no guarantee that Pierce plays in Detroit — it'll come down to how he feels and looks in practice this week. But at the very least, this is an important step in the right direction. It would be huge for the Vikings to at least have Pierce next Thursday night when Najee Harris and the Steelers come to town.
Pierce, the Vikings' big free agent signing in 2020, has only played in four of a possible 27 games since coming to Minnesota. He missed all of last season after opting-out due to being at high risk for COVID-19. Pierce showed off his talent in his Vikings debut against the Bengals in this year's season opener, sacking Joe Burrow twice.
The Vikings could also get fellow starting DT Dalvin Tomlinson back this week. Tomlinson is on the Reserve/COVID list and because he's unvaccinated, had to miss at least ten days. That clock is up this week, but that doesn't mean he'll play in Detroit either.
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