Decision looming on Cedric Griffin's status; first cuts come Tuesday
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Sometime in the next five days, the Minnesota Vikings will have to make a decision on Cedric Griffin.
The Vikings' right cornerback has been increasing the intensity of his workouts in recent weeks, but he remains on the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he recovers from knee reconstruction.
That designation expires on Saturday, when NFL teams have to reduce rosters to 53 players.
So, the Vikings will have two choices: transfer Griffin to the reserve/PUP list, which would bar him from practicing or playing for the season's first six weeks, or activate him and take up a roster spot on a player who probably won't be ready for action by the Sept. 9 opener.
Griffin, who blew out his left knee in the NFC championship game on Jan. 24, has maintained since the start of training camp he was ready to play and was doing all the same drills in private that teammates were doing on the field.
"This has nothing to do with me -- it's all about the coaches," Griffin said on Monday. "Coach (Brad) Childress, (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman, our training staff -- whatever they feel is best for me, I'll do what they say. They're my bosses right now."
The odds seem strong the Vikings will activate Griffin, for multiple reasons.
It's now been more than seven months since his injury -- much further along in the generally accepted six- to nine-month recovery timeline than when camp began.
It would allow him to participate in drills on the field, rather than conducting private sessions after practice with defensive backs coach Joe Woods, and allow coaches to gauge his progress.
It also would give the Vikings flexibility to bring back Griffin slowly in games, perhaps beginning with some action on special teams.
Wednesday's trade of Benny Sapp to Miami left the Vikings with only four healthy cornerbacks likely to make the roster: starter Antoine Winfield, plus the trio of Chris Cook, Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen that has been competing to take Griffin's place.
Asked the same day whether the trade was a sign Griffin was getting closer to returning, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said, "I wouldn't go that far. He is still in the rehab stage and he hasn't done any drills with our football team. Everything is on the side, and it is hard to project, what it is going to be like when he puts pads on and has to cover the wide receivers."
However, if one of those four gets hurt -- Cook suffered an apparently minor knee injury on Saturday night and didn't practice on Monday -- bringing back Griffin a week or two early probably would be a more palatable option than signing an untested rookie off the practice squad.
The other player on the active/PUP list, receiver Sidney Rice, most likely is headed for reserve/PUP after undergoing hip surgery a week ago that's expected to sideline him at least two months.
The Vikings entered Monday with 77 players on their active roster, meaning they have to make two moves to get down to the 75-man limit by Tuesday's 3 p.m. deadline.