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Updated: December 21st, 2011 3:03pm
Notebook: Mind 'in the right place,' Cedric Griffin will play again

Notebook: Mind 'in the right place,' Cedric Griffin will play again

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It appears Cedric Griffin will get one more shot with the Minnesota Vikings.

Whether that shot involves starting on Saturday at Washington remains to be seen.

"We just talked about what we need and the fact that I have confidence he can get this job done," coach Leslie Frazier said of Griffin, who hasn't played on defense since getting benched in the first quarter of the Vikings' loss at Detroit on Dec. 11.

"I know he can, and I've seen him do it before. He's got to have that same confidence. But he'll have an opportunity this week to help our club and I'm sure he'll do well. I believe he'll do well."

Griffin, 29, has drawn coaches' ire much of the season for both his performance and his failure to execute techniques as called.

Frazier has repeatedly chalked that up to a loss of confidence as Griffin tries to come back from two reconstructive surgeries on both knees last year.

"Having two ACL (injuries) -- that's got to play into your mind a little bit," Frazier said. "But he's done everything physically that you'd like to see him be able to do. Now it's just a matter of having confidence that nothing bad is going to happen if I plant a certain way or drive in a certain direction. I'm going to survive."

Griffin watched most of Sunday's game against New Orleans from the sideline with his arms folded and a towel over his head. He played sparingly on special teams but didn't get into the game even when cornerback Asher Allen departed with a concussion.

Allen hadn't passed his post-concussion tests as of Wednesday afternoon. If he's not cleared on Thursday, the Vikings likely will have to decide between Marcus Sherels, Brandon Burton or Griffin as the starter opposite Benny Sapp.

"I think (Griffin's) mind is in the right place," Frazier said, "and we're going to need him in these final two games to help our secondary, help our team."

Concussion watch

Television cameras showed Frazier waving Allen off the field after he suffered the concussion while trying to tackle Saints halfback Darren Sproles on Sunday.

However, Allen briefly returned to the game before being re-examined by the Vikings' medical team and escorted to the locker room.

"I asked him the other day, I said, 'Could you hear me yelling your name to get off?'" Frazier recalled on Wednesday. "He said, 'I could hear somebody yelling, but I didn't know where it was coming from -- in the stands or where.' I said, 'Uhh ...'"

The Vikings are known for having a proactive approach to head injuries, but it's not always immediately evident when they occur. Left guard Steve Hutchinson also returned to Sunday's game for a series after suffering what later was diagnosed as a concussion in addition to a cut on his lip that required stitches.

Facing criticism about the Cleveland Browns' failure to test quarterback Colt McCoy for a concussion during a game earlier this month, the NFL reportedly alerted all 32 teams it will pay for an independently certified athletics trainer to monitor suspected concussion-related injures from an upstairs booth at each game, beginning this week.

"It's probably a good thing, considering the collisions that happen in our game, to have someone there with the background and expertise to evaluate some of the potential concussions that do happen," Frazier said. "I think it's probably wise."

Health watch

Veteran Joe Berger practiced in place of Hutchinson at left guard on Wednesday, and rookie Brandon Fusco also could see time there if Hutchinson can't play on Saturday.

"We talked about that, just to be able to see him move around and just see how he does," Frazier said of Fusco, the sixth-round draft pick out of Division II Slippery Rock. "We're going to see how the game is going and maybe get that done."

Everyone else on the roster was at least a limited participant in practice except cornerback Chris Cook, who remains on paid leave and is out.

Limited were: guard Anthony Herrera (knee), safety Jarrad Page (hamstring), defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee) and linebacker Erin Henderson (illness).

For Washington, tackle Jammal Brown (groin), linebacker London Fletcher (ankle), halfback Roy Helu (toe/knee) and fullback Mike Sellers (elbow) were limited. End Stephen Bowen (knee), punter Sav Rocca (left ankle) and cornerback Josh Wilson (head/chest) were full participants.

Sack games

The Saints used persistent chips and double teams to hold Jared Allen in check on Sunday, keeping him at 17½ sacks for the season -- a half-sack fewer than Philadelphia's Jason Babin for the league lead.

Frazier said he expects the Redskins to take a similar approach and said Vikings coaches have discussed ways to give Allen a shot at breaking Michael Strahan's decade-old NFL record of 22 ½ sacks.

"We are going to do our very best to see him lead the league in sacks and hopefully break that record," Frazier said. "We're going to do whatever we can to see that happen. He's so close. That would be a positive coming out of this season."

The Vikings' single-season sacks record is 21 by Chris Doleman in 1989. Allen's previous career high was 15½ with Kansas City in 2007.

"He's a player who has goals and aspirations, and you never know when you're going to get this close again," Frazier said. "I think this is his highest total in his career in a single season. You want to get as many as you can in these final two games. It's definitely something we're conscious of and so is he."

Quick hits

• WR Percy Harvin offered a public endorsement for Frazier, who is 3-15 since winning his first two games as the Vikings' interim coach last season. "I'm a big fan of Coach Frazier," Harvin said. "I feel we all around here love him. We all go out and give it our all for him. So, hopefully he's back next year, definitely."

• Center John Sullivan's five-year, $25 million contract extension includes base salaries of $3 million in 2012, $3.15 million in 2013, $3.65 million in 2014 and $4.65 million in 2015 and '16.

• MLB E.J. Henderson, who is on the long list of Vikings who can be free agents after the season, said his preference is to re-sign with the only NFL team he's ever played for. "This is my home," Henderson said. "I would love to stay here. Of course, the money is important, to hit the market. But ... I would love to stay here and finish my career here."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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