Notebook: Griffin Needed and Ready

Cornerback Cedric Griffin could get his first start in the NFL against Brett Favre and the Packers. See what Griffin had to say about his progress, how the Vikings are sticking with Troy Williamson, and get personnel notes.

Cornerback Fred Smoot is going through the grieving process after finding out Sunday that his brother was killed in a car accident, but while the cornerback is down in Mississippi he has requested a playbook from the Vikings to study up on the Green Bay Packers.

"We've texted back and forth, missed phone calls," head coach Brad Childress said. "He's spoken with (head trainer) Eric Sugarman a couple of different times here. He's preparing. We're getting him a playbook down there, but it's a loss for him so we're being … with the grieving process, you can't ask him to do a lot right now. He's requested, he wants all that material."

But with the wake on Friday and funeral service on Saturday, the chances of Smoot being mentally right to play or prepared on the game plan don't seem good. However, Childress wouldn't rule out that possibility.

"I think it remains to be seen. Obviously he's a professional, so it's not like we're going to re-shape the wheel," Childress said. "We'll just check his temperature when he comes back. Again, this is a tough set of circumstances for him."

If Smoot doesn't play, second-round draft pick Cedric Griffin would become a starter in the base defense for the first time this season.

Griffin was a full-time contributor in the Vikings' nickel defense for the first time on Sunday in San Francisco, before Smoot found out about the tragedy, and played well in that role. The Vikings ended up limiting the 49ers to 133 yards of total offense in their best defensive effort yet.

"I always prepare like I'm a starter because I want to play, so I always go into the game or practice or whatever and make sure I'm on top of my game. I'm not looking at anything different. Nothing more is going to be expected out of me than I expect out of me," Griffin said Wednesday.

Before the 49ers game, Griffin had been splitting series with Ronyell Whitaker in the nickel defense, with Griffin playing left corner and Antoine Winfield moving to cover the slot receiver when Griffin was in the game.

This week, if Smoot doesn't start, Griffin will play right cornerback, the side he played in college. That may be better for Griffin, as the physical corner may have more of an opportunity to jam receivers on the right side.

"The only difference is I'm playing the X instead of the Z," Griffin explained. "The X is on the line of scrimmage (against the right cornerback) and I'll get a better chance to jam the receivers. The right side is the X side and that's when you get receivers on the ball and you get better jams on the receiver."

The potential of getting his first NFL start against Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre doesn't seem to rattle Griffin one bit.

"He's a Hall of Fame-future quarterback. If I'd get a pick I'd definitely keep the ball. That'd be cool, but other than that, he's another quarterback in the NFL," Griffin said.


Childress was asked if he still has confidence in second-year receiver Troy Williamson, who dropped at least two passes Sunday that would have been first downs.

"I just think you have to play through. You can heighten yourself with balls caught during the day, balls caught after practice. You can't simulate those game time circumstances. We try to practice at a high level here, but success breeds confidence. There is not a magic serum that you can inject in him. You've got to play on," Childress said. "You've got to play through, and that's the toughest thing sometimes, whether it's the quarterback position or the wide receiver position."

Quarterback Brad Johnson, who was throwing those balls to Williamson and who has come back to Williamson in other games this season after he dropped passes, said he'll continue to go to Williamson.

"You cannot waver away form anyone, whether it's a running back that fumbled or whether it's a receiver that's struggled. You can't waver at all with your calls or with the ball and the direction it's going," Johnson said.

"At some point we all go through that. We all have to deal with it in our own way and we all encourage each other, just keep working hard in practice and make those plays. Troy has improved. He's made some great plays for us this year and I'm sure he's had a couple he wished he had back. But Troy is a guy we're going to lean on heavy the second half of the season and he's going to make some big-time plays for us."


  • The team has given tryouts to more than a dozen receivers since the start of the season, and a few of those had tryouts with other teams this week. Craphonso Thorpe tried out with Jacksonville, and Randy Hymes and Darius Watts with Miami.

  • The Dolphins signed former Vikings guard Toniu Fonoti. Fonoti was acquired by the Vikings during the 2005 season and started one game, but the team didn't make much of an effort to re-sign him in free agency, instead acquiring left guard Steve Hutchinson in free agency and right guard Artis Hicks in an off-season trade. Fonoti signed with Tampa Bay but was released on Sept. 2 before the season began.

  • The Dolphins also gave a tryout to former Vikings quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan.

  • Tennessee gave a tryout to guard Steve Edwards, who was on the Vikings' active roster for about 24 hours earlier this season.

  • Tampa Bay gave a tryout to defensive back Tony Beckham, who spent some time with the Vikings this off-season.

  • Fullback Tony Richardson has cast on his broken right thumb, but he said he'll play and hopes to have at least the hard cast off by Sunday. Richardson broke his left thumb two years ago and said he didn't miss a beat. The fact that Richardson broke his right thumb early in the game against San Francisco and continued to play backs up his words with actions.

  • Although Childress didn't say whether wide receiver Marcus Robinson would be able to play Sunday against Green Bay with his lower back injury, he did say Robinson is "picking up; he's doing some pool running."

  • Running back Chester Taylor is being treated for "overall body soreness," Childress said.

  • Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is treating his ankle and defensive tackle Pat Williams still has a "puffy" knee, according to Childress.

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