Safety Harrison Smith and edge rusher Za'Darius Smith will return to the lineup, as anticipated, for a Vikings defense that is essentially at full strength for Sunday afternoon's NFC wild-card game against the Giants. Harrison Smith — the longest-tenured Vikings player in his 11th season — is starting in his seventh playoff game.
Both Smiths missed last week's regular season finale in Chicago. Harrison Smith was out because of knee soreness that continued to limit him this week; Za'Darius Smith was out because of a personal matter, although he said this week a Week 10 knee injury limited him throughout the second half of this season.
Kick returner Kene Nwangwu (illness) will also play against the Giants.
Cornerback Cameron Dantzler (ankle/personal matter) will not play. He did not practice and wasn't seen around the team this week, an absence head coach Kevin O'Connell attributed to a personal matter.
The Vikings offensive line is getting two reinforcements for the postseason. Center Garrett Bradbury will start for the first time since Dec. 4, having missed five games due to a lower back injury.
The Vikings also activated tackle Blake Brandel from injured reserve after he returned to practice this week. Brandel is wearing a brace on the right knee that suffered a MCL sprain on Dec. 11 in Detroit.
Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson is facing the team that drafted him in 2017's second round in his first NFL playoff game in six seasons. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said he picked veterans from each part of the defense to keep younger players focused, isolating Tomlinson as that veteran among defensive linemen.
"Just to make sure guys are going through the same routine with the game plan," Tomlinson said this week. "Making sure we're in the moment where our feet are. Don't look further than where we are right now."
The Giants defense is relatively healthy with the return of top cornerback Adoree' Jackson. Safety Xavier McKinney is also playing his second game since returning from a broken hand. Neither played against the Vikings in Minnesota's Dec. 24 win over New York.
Vikings' inactives: Dantzler (ankle/personal matter), OLB Luiji Vilain, DL Esezi Otomewo, DT Ross Blacklock and RB Ty Chandler
Giants' inactives: LB Micah McFadden, G Wyatt Davis, RB Jashaun Corbin, CB Rodarius Williams, G Jack Anderson, WR Kalil Pimpleton and DT Henry Mondeaux