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Updated: December 15th, 2011 5:56pm
Notebook: Remi Ayodele doesn't second guess decision to leave Saints

Notebook: Remi Ayodele doesn't second guess decision to leave Saints

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Percy Harvin joked Wednesday that nose tackle Remi Ayodele was doing his best this week to rub in the fact that the New Orleans Saints prevailed over the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFC title game.

Ayodele, who signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Vikings after the lockout last summer, had spent the previous three seasons in New Orleans.

But Ayodele claimed Thursday that he only talked about one of the most painful defeats in Vikings history when the subject was broached by someone else.

"I haven't brought that game up one time since I've been here," Ayodele said. "If I'm ever talking about it, it's because they brought it up and I just finish it up."

Of course, Ayodele admits that his teammates have talked about that game, "at least every other day," since he arrived. This week it has been a daily discussion point as the Vikings prepare to play host to the Saints at the Metrodome.

Ayodele said he goes to great lengths not to try and rub it in too much and dismissed claims that he had shown off his Super Bowl ring. The Saints went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts after getting past the Vikings.

"It's not even here in Minneapolis," Ayodele said of the ring. "I was going to bring it if we were going to the playoffs just to get the buzz so everybody can get to feel it. We did that down in New Orleans.

"A couple of guys that won a Super Bowl, wore their ring (during the playoffs) everyday so everybody could get a taste of it and see what's ahead. It has not been here the whole time. I'm not trying to get beat up."

Ayodele, 28, and the Vikings both have had a disappointing season. His new team is sitting at 2-11 - a world away from the NFC title game - and Ayodele has only 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

The Saints, meanwhile, are sitting atop the NFC South with a 10-3 record.

"I just think they know how to finish," Ayodele said when asked about the Saints' success. "They've been in a lot of close games this year also and they've just been finishing a lot better than we have. I think that's what it is. They pride themselves on finishing and that helps.

"In the NFL, most games are going to come down to the end no matter how bad the team is. Every now and then there is going to be those blowout games but I've been watching them this year. Most of their games they've been fighting, so they're just finishing real well and I guess that's it."

Ayodele had 53 tackles and 1.5 sacks during the 2009 regular season as he started 13 of 15 games and last season had 73 sacks with one sack in starting all 16 games.

Vikings fans will remember Ayodele from the NFC title game for his role, along with then teammate Bobby McCray, on a punishing high-low hit that injured quarterback Brett Favre. McCray was fined $20,000.

The Saints did attempt to keep Ayodele when the lockout ended, but the Vikings made him a better offer.

"It was a very tough decision," he said. "To take less money to go play with the team that you've been with ... it took me a while. I sat with my agent and my mom and he just broke it all down. I even called the defensive captain over there, Will Smith, and asked for his advice. After I took what everybody said, I made my decision to come here."

Ayodele hasn't second-guessed himself, despite the fact the Saints are playoff bound and the Vikings are one of the NFL's worst teams.

"No, I don't have regrets. They're doing good," he said. "The year before we won the Super Bowl we weren't doing too well. I think we won seven games maybe. (The Saints went 8-8.) It's the NFL, you can always turn stuff around. Look at San Francisco. They're a perfect example. So I don't have any regrets."

Griffin to remain on bench

Defensive coordinator Fred Pagac said Thursday that the coaching staff is planning to start Sunday's game with Asher Allen and Benny Sapp at the left and right cornerback spots, respectively.

That means Cedric Griffin will remain on the bench. Griffin, who has struggled this season after having reconstructive surgery on both knees the past two years, was lifted in the first quarter last Sunday at Detroit.

"He is being a professional about it and he's working and doing his job at this point," Pagac said of Griffin.

Marcus Sherels took Sapp's spot in the nickel defense and likely will remain in that role.

See you next year?

Frazier keeps in contact with Chris Cook from "time to time" but it's clear the cornerback will not return to the team for the remainder of the regular season.

Cook is on the 53-man roster, but is on paid leave as he awaits for his domestic assault trial to begin on March 5.

"With three games to go, it looks like where we are now we're going to go with the guys that are playing," Frazier said. "But you never know."

Cook plans to claim self defense from the Oct. 22 incident.

Cook originally was charged with domestic assault by strangulation. An additional charge of third-degree assault was added after the alleged victim, Cook's girlfriend, said she suffered hearing loss after being choked.

"From all indications, he's handling the things he needs to handle in a proper way," Frazier said of Cook. "I'm hoping that things go in the right direction for his personal life. That's where his focus needs to be. Not on us and what we're doing. His personal life is what he's dealing with."

Peterson nearing mark

Adrian Peterson, who is expected to return Sunday after missing three games because of a high left ankle sprain, is 164 yards from breaking Robert Smith's franchise record for rushing yards.

Smith ran for 6,818 yards on 1,411 attempts from 1993 to 2000. Peterson has rushed for 6,654 yards on 1,384 attempts since joining the Vikings in 2007.

"It would mean a lot," Peterson said of getting the record. "Just going into my fifth year and having that record that's been held for a long time."

Said Frazier: "It just shows how impressive he's been in his short career. It doesn't seem like it's been a short career. He seems like he's been so dominant from day one.

"But when you look at what he's accomplished in (those) five years, it's astounding in so many ways. There's still so much he's going to achieve as long as he's able to stay healthy. We're watching a rarity in Adrian and I tell myself this all the time, 'You don't want to take for granted his talents.'

"He's so special. You see him break a long run and make people miss. You just have to marvel at some of the things he does sometimes when plays aren't blocked exactly how you designed them. We really have to appreciate who he is and what he's accomplished in a short period of time."

A longer look

The Vikings did get a chance to get a long look at running back Toby Gerhart during Peterson's absence.

He rushed for 225 yards on 57 carries (3.9 average) with one touchdown. Gerhart had only 24 carries for 118 yards before Peterson went out.

"We all had an idea what he was capable of doing, but to actually get him some reps like he had with Adrian being out kind of lets all of our coaches know what he's capable of doing," Frazier said.

"Our new staff really didn't have as much exposure to him in game situations, but now having seen what he's done, it definitely gives us more opportunities and with Adrian coming off an injury to spend a little bit more time and give him a few more carries.

"He did a terrific job in Adrian's absence. Just really lowered the boom on some guys and it increased everybody's confidence in him when he's in the game."

No thanks

The Vikings attempted to lure wide receiver Tori Gurley off the Green Bay Packers practice squad this week by offering him a spot on their active roster, but the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported the rookie turned down the opportunity.

Instead, Gurley elected to remain on the practice squad in Green Bay. He told the paper the Packers offered him a raise.

"If you look statistically, (the Vikings) season is going to be over in three weeks," said Gurley, an undrafted free agent from South Carolina. "We're already locked to have a playoff spot." 

Saints injuries

Running back Mark Ingram (toe) and linebacker Jonathan Casillas (knee) sat out practice for a second consecutive day for the Saints, while linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) and defensive end Turk McBride (ankle) were limited. Vilma had sat out Wednesday.

Cornerback Tracy Porter (wrist), defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (hamstring), tight end Jimmy Graham (back) and linebacker Scott Shanle (shoulder) are all on the injury report but have not missed any practice time this week.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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