Notebook: Cedric Griffin 'ready' to start; Percy Harvin migraine-free?
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Cedric Griffin was back in a familiar spot on Monday afternoon, albeit one he hasn't been in nearly as often as he'd like over the past 18 months.
The sixth-year pro lined up at right cornerback with the Minnesota Vikings' starting defense for the first time since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Oct. 11 -- Griffin's second such ACL injury in 8½ months.
"I'm fine, man," Griffin said. "This is football and injuries happen all the time, so I'm not excited about anything. This is part of my job. I love playing football, and I'm just glad to be out there, for sure."
A year ago, Griffin opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list and didn't play in a game until Sept. 26. He acquitted himself well in three games before blowing out the knee while making a tackle in the fourth quarter of a loss to the New York Jets.
"That's a tough injury, especially for a cornerback with all the running and cutting we have to do," teammate Antoine Winfield said. "But I know that if anyone can do it, it's 'Griff'. He's the hardest working man in America."
And this time, Griffin is back on the field from Day 1 of camp -- a positive sign for a Vikings secondary that coach Leslie Frazier admitted on Sunday has him more uncertain than any other position group.
The plan is to hold Griffin, 28, out of contact drills initially and "give him a little bit more as time goes on," Frazier said. But early indications are the Vikings are optimistic about having Griffin ready to start the season opener on Sept. 11 at San Diego.
"I know I'm ready physically, as well as emotionally, and as far as my confidence as well," Griffin said. "I'm just glad to be back out here with my teammates and contributing during training camp."
Harvin feeling good
Receiver Percy Harvin confirmed what he told a Virginia newspaper in June: he's been migraine-free since January.
"My health is great right now," Harvin said. "We didn't run into any setbacks over the summer. We're optimistic is all pretty much behind me."
Of course, Harvin has made similar statements in the past, and his longest migraine-free stretch since kindergarten coincided with an NFL lockout that wiped out all offseason workouts and practices.
But doctors worked on Harvin's neck and his diet in the offseason, and he was the first player in the building when the lockout ended last week -- something of a statement by a player who missed 36 full practices, parts of at least 13 other practices, two preseason games and two regular-season games last year.
Last Aug. 1, Harvin left the Vikings after the death of his grandmother and didn't return to the team for more than two weeks. One year to the day later, Harvin was a full participant in practice and reported no ill effects.
"I'm feeling great right now and looking to go," Harvin said.
With starting quarterback Donovan McNabb standing nearby as a spectator, Joe Webb took the bulk of first-team reps, with rookie first-round pick Christian Ponder rotating in during his first NFL practice.
"(Monday) was more a glorified walk-through, slower-tempo, a big teaching day, but I loved it," said Ponder, who drew a few audible groans from spectators by throwing high on a series of throws early in practice.
"I got some reps with the ones. I knocked off all the rust and was a little nervous at the beginning, but got through it."
In all, 15 players sat out Monday's practice -- most of them because of the NFL's transition rules, which bar non-rookies who signed new or renegotiated contracts the past three days from participating until the 2011 league year begins on Thursday.
That included: quarterback Donovan McNabb; halfback Tristan Davis; receivers Bernard Berrian, Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins; tackles Charlie Johnson and Scott Kooistra; linebacker Mark Washington; safeties Eric Frampton and Husain Abdullah; nose tackles Remi Ayodele and Fred Evans; place-kicker Ryan Longwell.
Left tackle Bryant McKinnie was placed on the non-football injury list with an undisclosed ailment and right guard Anthony Herrera landed on the camp/physically unable to perform list as expected while he continues to recover from knee reconstruction and triceps surgery.
Herrera ready for opener?
Frazier said the Vikings aren't ruling out Herrera for their opener on Sept. 11, roughly 9½ months after a torn ACL ended his 2010 season.
"We're going to start him off on PUP and then we'll evaluate him and just see where he ends up at," Frazier said. "He's coming off a tough injury -- ACL and then his triceps, so we'll give him enough time to try to get ready for the opener of our season."
Chris DeGeare, a fifth-round draft pick last year who started six games as a rookie after Herrera's injury, took the first-team reps with the starters on Monday. But the Vikings also finalized a three-year deal with another potential starting option: Johnson, who mostly played left tackle during five seasons in Indianapolis but is better-suited physically for guard.
Asked if Johnson will start this season, Frazier said, "It's possible. You're right -- he's been a guy who's been a swing guy who can start. He can also play guard. He can play tackle. You need guys on the offensive line that can play multiple positions and he gives us that. So, we'll see how it pans out."
'A sobering moment'
Monday marked the 10-year anniversary of Korey Stringer's death after the Vikings' right tackle collapsed on the field during a sweltering day of training camp.
A moment of silence was held before practice, Stringer's retired No. 77 was painted on the main field and Frazier asked tight end Jimmy Kleinsasser -- the only remaining teammate of Stringer's on the Vikings roster -- to address the team.
"It's good to talk to the guys who didn't know him and tell him what he was like as a player, as a person," Kleinsasser said. "I sat down with (left guard Steve Hutchinson on Sunday) night and was telling him stories. Korey would have loved having him play on the line with him. We have Korey's locker (encased with glass) back at Winter Park. So, guys see that as well. Maybe me talking to them will make it mean a little more when they walk past it."
The day also included head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman's annual 20-minute presentation to players about hydration, the science of dehydration and the preventative measures the Vikings and other NFL teams have enhanced since Stringer passed away.
"I tell you, it was a sobering moment for our team as Jim explained who Korey was and what type of player he was -- more so the person," Frazier said. "Everyone misses him. I wish he could come out and watch us practice (Monday), but in a way I feel like he was there (Monday). He was there, just having his number there on the field and painted. Just feel he lives on in a lot of ways through the pride these players have."
• HB Adrian Peterson "might miss a day or two" of camp, Frazier said, but he has a good excuse: Peterson's fiancée went into labor during Monday's practice.
• Harvin said he has been in close contact with his friend and former teammate Randy Moss, who announced his retirement on Monday. But Moss never provided any indication he was done playing. "We did some studies together," Harvin said. "He told me some things to work or some of the things he seen when he was part of the team. He's just been a guy that I could go to, along with a lot of other guys that I call during the offseason. He's a great friend of mine and we'll continue our friendship."
• Ponder's contract is worth $10.15 million, including a $5.88 million bonus, NationalFootballPost.com reported. That's slightly lower than the originally reported figure of $11 million. It is believed the four non-option years of the deal are fully guaranteed.
• There were no competitive periods in Monday's practice, which moved more like an OTA workout. That'll change on Tuesday morning, Frazier said. "We'll have some competitive practices (Tuesday), some 7-on-7s and team," Frazier said. "But (Monday) was more technique, more fundamentals, just bringing them along and just seeing where they were physically."