Cedric Griffin (Scott Boehm/Getty)
Cedric Griffin isn’t giving up on his goal to be ready for the regular-season opener, which is now just three days away. The Vikings are short on healthy cornerbacks and are looking at different options.
Cedric Griffin continues to push the normal timetable for coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Whether or not he’ll play on Thursday night in the regular-season opener against the New Orleans Saints remains to be seen.
“The fact that he's out here practicing gives us some hope, and so we're just trying to ascertain over the next couple of days, is it a real possibility?” Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “So we're going to give it another day and just see how he does tomorrow, but he has already done far more than we expected when we decided to put him on the 53.”
Griffin tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee on Jan. 24 of the NFC Championship Game when he was running downfield to cover the opening kickoff of overtime. Since then, he’s had the goal of returning to action for the opener about 7½ months after the injury.
“I feel good. I’ve been practicing here the last few days with my teammates and I’m taking all the reps. I’m feeling really good,” he said. “I’m doing everything. I’m out here with my defense and doing my part. I’m just making it happen. I’m glad that they’re allowing me to practice and do what I do out there so far. It’s been good.”
Griffin was listed as being limited in the Vikings’ initial injury report of the season, but they don’t have to declare the likelihood of him playing until Wednesday.
While Griffin still seems like a long shot to play, he has been making impressive strides. He spent all of training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but when the Vikings had to make a decision on his status during the roster cutdown to 53, they opted not to force him to sit out the first six weeks of the season and instead put him on the active roster.
“I worked really hard, man. When they were doing two-a-days, I was doing two-a-days, either lifting weights or running outside or doing my drills with (position coach Joe Woods),” Griffin said. “I worked for this. That’s how I got into the league and that’s how I’m going to continue to work.”
THIN AT THE POSITION
If Griffin can’t play, the Vikings only have three healthy cornerbacks on their 53-man roster right now, something the coaches and players are dealing with.
“We're going to show up. Those guys are going to play hard. Whoever's dressed, they're going to play hard and give us the effort that they always give us,” Frazier said. “But we'll definitely need it on Thursday night.”
That may be even more important against a team like the New Orleans Saints. Last year, the Saints had five players catch 45 passes or more and they had the league’s top-rated offense.
Cornerback Chris Cook (knee) did not practice Monday and Frazier sounded like he wasn’t planning on having another cornerback sign before the game. Another possibility is activating rookie Marcus Sherels off the practice squad, but the most likely option seems to be having safety Husain Abdullah cover a receiver if the Vikings need to have six defensive backs on the field.
“It's a possibility,” Frazier said. “There are different combinations that we can use, and we've been exploring all those possibilities. We'll just see how it all shakes out.”
Abdullah said he got reps as a nickel defensive back in two or three games last year.
Antoine Winfield said Abdullah might be the best cover safety on the roster and said safety Madieu Williams can cover as well. Winfield also admitted that the Saints could cause some matchup problems with the Vikings by using RB Reggie Bush and TE Jeremy Shockey often in pass patterns.
Either way, it looks like the Vikings are on pace to enter the game with three healthy cornerbacks.
“Oh yeah, that’s tough to go into the season with only three healthy,” Winfield said. “But this is our job. This is what we do. We have to go with who’s healthy.”
The Vikings issued their first injury report of the season.
CB Chris Cook (knee) and DT Jimmy Kennedy (knee) did not participate.
RB Toby Gerhart (knee), CB Cedric Griffin (knee), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle) and C John Sullivan (calf) were limited.
QB Brett Favre (ankle) participated fully.
The Saints had a few starters who were limited in Monday’s practice. CB Tracy Porter, who had the all-important interception of Brett Favre in last year’s NFC Championship Game, was limited with a knee injury, and LB Jonathan Vilma was also limited with a groin injury. T Zach Strief (knee) was limited, too.
LB Stanley Arnoux (ankle) and RB Chris Ivory (knee) did not practice.
WR Marques Colston (kidney), TE Jimmy Graham (ankle) and S Pierson Prioleau (knee) all participated fully for New Orleans.
The Vikings filled out their practice squad by signing 2009 Broncos fourth-round draft choice Seth Olsen and adding Patriots 2010 seventh-round draft choice Thomas Welch. Olsen is a guard and Welch is a tackle. The Vikings released guard Thomas Austin to make room for the two offensive linemen.
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was pursued by the Vikings during free agency in 2009, was signed by the Baltimore Ravens Monday to a one-year, $855,000 contract. He was released by Seattle on Sunday, one year after he chose the Seahawks over the Vikings.
The Denver Broncos signed former Vikings T Chris Clarke to their 53-man roster.
The Arizona Cardinals signed former Vikings RB Ian Johnson to their practice squad and the Philadelphia Eagles signed TE Garrett Mills to their practice squad.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.