At his Monday press conference, head coach Leslie Frazier, a former defensive back himself who spent years coaching the secondary in the NFL, was atypically critical of his defensive backs. Asked if Griffin is "missing something" coming back from two knee surgeries, Frazier was unusually candid.
"Yeah, I think so," Frazier said. "He's not the Cedric we saw before the second ACL injury and he's tried to battle through some things, but his confidence level has not been where it needs to be to play at a high level in our league. I'm sure it has a lot to do with coming off of a second ACL and we're just so depleted depth-wise that we have to have him out there. I know he'd like to play better. I know he's trying to play better, but it's been a tough year for him."
In his defense Wednesday, Griffin was peppered with questions about his self-assessment of his play. He rarely goes beyond the standard textbook player answers to media questions, but stuck to a similar theme and specific phrases "for where I'm at" and "right now" – giving the clear impression that his recovery is progressing, but not all the way there.
"For where I'm at right now, my play is just fine," Griffin said. "I don't have any problem about the way I've been playing. I'm doing pretty well for where I am at. I really don't have any criticism about my play."
Griffin bristled at the notion that he has lost the fire he built early in his career when opposing quarterbacks targeted him and he took it personally. He said that the process of returning from injury is difficult and said he believes he's doing quite well, all things considered.
"You can talk to anyone who's dealt with that situation," Griffin said. "I'm doing well for where I'm at, managing it pretty well. I think I'm doing pretty good, to be honest with you."
Asked if he is satisfied with the level of his play, Griffin said he feels good about it, reiterating his mantra of the timing of his return and the level of his play.
"I'm happy with my play," Griffin said. "I'm doing a good job out there. I can't say anything further on that. I'm doing really well for where I'm at, so you need to understand that."
In the end, Griffin didn't say all that much, other than hammer home the point that he is still in the process of recovery and playing his way back to 100 percent. It seems clear that Griffin doesn't believe he will be 100 percent until next year and, by then, the memory of the 2011 season will be a little less raw in the memory and the Vikings can turn the page and look ahead.
"I'm just doing what I can do, doing the best I can do right now – just trying to play ball and get back to what I know how to play football," Griffin said. "It's not been the season that we all wanted as a whole. The good thing about the NFL is we have next year and we can get back and prepare for another four months and try to get it together again."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.