Everson Griffen (Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY)
Vikings defensive lineman Everson Griffen will get the start if Brian Robison can’t play, but Griffen has showed an increase in on-field production and off-field maturity. Plus, Chris Cook should be ready to play Sunday, Blair Walsh wins an award and more notes.
Everson Griffen may have had the most productive game of his young career filling in for an injured Brian Robison last week, and Griffen could be in line for more of it Sunday.
Robison suffered a Grade 3 sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Rams and Griffen ended up playing 85 percent of the defensive snaps in Robison absence.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Wednesday that Robison will be “day to day” with his shoulder injury.
“We probably won’t know anything until probably Friday, just to see if he continues making progress throughout the week,” Frazier said.
Robison missed practice Wednesday, but Griffen was wearing a brace on his right elbow, too. The extent of his injury isn’t known, but it also isn’t expected to keep him out of action.
For the season, Griffen has 31 tackles and five sacks, the second ranking third on the team, but Frazier has been impressed with Griffen’s maturity this year after some troubles to start his career.
“He’s come so far. I’ve talked to him about it often, just seeing the maturation, even through this last offseason being able to manage his free time, understanding what it means to become a pro and to act like a pro, both in practice and in games as well,” Frazier said.
“Off the field, he’s one of those guys as we speak that has really bought into the right way of doing things.”
It wasn’t always that way. Early in 2011, Griffen was arrested twice, for fleeing police after a traffic stop and public intoxication.
Since the first two months of 2011, there have been no public blemishes on Griffen’s record and he has been commended for his increased maturity. In October, he showed the signs of that maturity in how he dealt with the unexpected death of his mother, who was visiting him in the Twin Cities area.
Griffen left the Vikings’ Winter Park practice facility when he found out about his mother’s death, but he was back two days later and played the following game in her memory.
“Just being able to manage some of the other things that were happening in his life, he’s got a hold of maturing and it’s great to see. He’s a great example for a lot of young players that come in our league,” Frazier said. “He’s really grown up. The tragedy that he’s faced this season, losing his mother, that was hard. But the way he responded, even in the midst of that tragedy, you just take your hat off to him at how courageous he is. I told him I thought his mother would be extremely proud of him the way he’s handled himself. He’s come a long ways.”
Last week, Griffen showed off his athleticism as well. He dropped into coverage from his usual defensive line spot, intercepted a Sam Bradford pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown.
With Robison likely out, or at the very least limited this week, Griffen is likely to see plenty of playing time again Sunday against the Houston Texans.
COOK’S PLAYING TIME STILL QUESTIONABLE
The Vikings will likely have 6-foot-3 cornerback Chris Cook back in action Sunday for the first time since Oct. 25, when he suffered a broken forearm, but how much he will play remains the big question.
“I’m hoping as the week goes on that he’s feeling a little bit more comfortable and confident about where he is physically and feeling up to the challenge of getting out there and playing in the game,” Frazier said.
Cook said he was looking forward to returning for the Houston game to accept the challenge of trying to match up with receiver Andre Johnson, who already has 93 catches for 1,360 yards this season.
“That’s one of the reasons we drafted him, to be able to line up with some of the top receivers, the big receivers in our league,” Frazier said of Cook. “Unfortunately, he has been banged up. We do get him back this week and hopefully he can provide some help for us, but that was one of the reasons we targeted him when he did.”
Cook might play with a soft cast or wrap on his right arm.
WALSH WINS AWARD
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the St. Louis Rams, when he was 5-for-5 on field goals, including three of 50 yards or more. His three field goals of 50 yards or more in one game set the Vikings record and tied the NFL record.
Walsh joins Adrian Peterson and Randy Moss as the only rookies in Vikings history to win the Player of the Week Award multiple times in their first NFL season. His first award came after his Week 1 performance against Jacksonville.
His 47 touchbacks are a franchise high and ranks fourth in the NFL. On the season, Walsh is 29-for-32 on FGs and 28-28 on extra points.
He is the fourth Vikings kicker to win the award, joining Gary Anderson (four times), Fuad Reveiz (twice), Ryan Longwell (twice) and Eddie Murray (once).
A.D.: ADRIAN DONATES
Adrian Peterson and Mall of America are teaming up to donate 1,812 toys to the Salvation Army’s holiday drive, matching the current number of rushing yards Peterson has this season. The Salvation Army put out an “all-call” to the community this week stressing the need for toys for families in need during the holiday season.
“Adrian shines with his amazing on-field performance, but it is his work in the community that makes him a star,” Maureen Bausch, executive vice president for Mall of America, said in a release. “We are so proud to partner with Adrian Peterson to bring 1,812 toys – and additional toys to match his yardage at season’s end – to those in need this holiday season. That’s what the holidays are all about.”
Left tackle Matt Kalil didn’t practice Wednesday because of illness.
Running back Adrian Peterson (abdomen/groin) didn’t practice either, but the Vikings have been more conscious of giving him rest in the middle of week to keep him fresher for game days.
CB Antoine Winfield (knee), DE Jared Allen (shoulder), P Chris Kluwe (knee/groin), RT Phil Loadholt (knee) and S Mistral Raymond (ankle) were limited.
If the Vikings activate Cook off injured reserve, it would leave them with four players on that list, well below the league average of 10½. According to STATS LLC, 336 players around the league were on injured reserve as of Tuesday. The league record since 2000 is 404.
For the Texans, CB Alan Ball (foot) didn't practice. Nine others, including starting RT Derek Newton (knee), S Glover Quinn (hip), LB Darryl Sharpton (toe), LB Brooks Reed (groin), CB Johnathan Joseph (groin) and DE Antonio Smith (ankle) were limited.
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.