- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Wearing a sleeve on his left calf, Minnesota defensive tackle Linval Joseph said he'll be ready to play in the Vikings' regular-season opener after he was hit by a stray bullet in a Minneapolis nightclub on Aug. 9.
"I thank God for it being a clean wound -- straight in, straight out," Joseph said Tuesday.
Joseph was one of nine people shot in the 400 Soundbar nightclub that morning, after he and several teammates had gone there following the Vikings' first preseason game. He was released from Hennepin County Medical Center later that day, and was back with the Vikings at training camp the same weekend.
Joseph, though, did some harder running on the team's practice field for the first time Monday, and while he said he won't play in the Vikings' final preseason game Thursday, he expects to be on the field in St. Louis against the Rams on Sept. 7.
"It's behind me now. I'm glad I'm healthy and can help this team," Joseph said. "To all the victims and anybody else who was involved, who was seriously hurt, I wish them a speedy recovery, as well. You never wish for anything like that to happen to anybody."
The nose tackle, who signed a five-year, $31.5 million contract with the Vikings in March, is expected to be a key piece of the team's defensive line this season. He missed part of the Vikings' offseason program while returning from shoulder surgery, but was ready to go at the beginning of training camp and played in Minnesota's first preseason game before the shooting. Police said the incident was gang-related. Joseph, who was near the back of the club in a VIP area, was an "innocent bystander," the Vikings said in a statement after the shooting.
"It makes you think about everything you've done in your life," Joseph said. "I'm 25 years old. I feel like I have a lot more to accomplish with my job, and just in my life. I'm just glad I have the opportunity to do that."
Joseph said he will continue to increase his conditioning throughout the week, with the idea of being fully ready to practice for the season opener when the Vikings reconvene for practice on Monday following their final roster cuts.
"Next week, I'm full-go," he said. "I'm ready to go."
1dEric D. Williams