Even though the overall mood at Winter Park can best be described as subdued in the wake of a three-game losing streak low-lighted by a loss to Green Bay last week, the Vikings did like what they saw from second-round draft pick Cedric Griffin.
In his first NFL start, Griffin made eight tackles and played well in place of cornerback Fred Smoot, who was in Mississippi attending the funeral of his half-brother. The Packers' passing attack shredded the Vikings defense, but it was clear Griffin held his own.
"I did pretty well and the coaches haven't stressed that I did anything wrong so I think that's good," Griffin said. "I think I did a great job out there."
Griffin is expected to return to his normal nickel role Sunday at Miami with Smoot returning to the starting role. Ronyell Whitaker, who struggled at nickel last week, will return to mainly to special-teams duties.
On Wednesday, head coach Brad Childress said he is keeping an eye on Smoot, who naturally faces a difficult task of remaining focused on his job in the wake of a family death.
"We had a little sit down and he's hurting," Childress said. "I mean that's pure and simple. He's anxious to get back out here to do something physical exertion-wise. He's
been running here the last couple days and lifting and working on his wind, but there's something about getting back out here and getting your mind off of things and getting away from what occurred.
"In a word, he is hurting."
Griffin, meanwhile, has steadily impressed coaches all season. With 23 tackles, Griffin has been solid at nickel back, and last week against the Packers showed he might be ready to play in an increased role.
"I think he's moved along since he's gotten here, with his 20 special teams plays, 50 plays on defense, and I thought he had some good hits," Childress said. "I think he's making good progress."
In March, Griffin, a three-year starter for the Texas Longhorns, became the highest cornerback drafted by the Vikings in 12 years (The Vikings selected Dewayne Washington in the first round in 1994).
"I'm in the NFL now so I know I have to perform up to my ability because they're paying me to do this," Griffin said. "This is what I love to do, so I'm going to play to the best of my ability all the time and because of that there isn't any stress.
"It was fun to get out there with the starting group and have fun with those guys. They talk a lot out there when I'm on the sideline, so when I was out there a lot it was fun to see what they were talking about. I had a blast, I had fun, so I'm going to keep on working and see where that leads me."
Wednesday afternoon, Griffin was still unsure how big his role would be on Sunday.
"We'll see what happens," Griffin said. "I'll just practice hard and do whatever they ask me to do."
Griffin Pleased With Performance
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