Cedric Griffin is getting closer to returning with each passing week as he increases his range and his activities following surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, an injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24.
"For sure progress has definitely been made since training camp," Griffin said before the Vikings broke training camp last week. "The training staff is doing a great job with me so far. I'm just happy with my progress. I'm happy I'm going out there doing my drills and just kind of participating on my own a little bit, so it's great."
Griffin was back to working out the knee again on Monday after practice, this time at Winter Park. Last week, he was cutting around cones and running straight-line sprints. On Monday he was doing a form of leg kicks with his knee bent.
For Griffin, the extended recovery process is all new.
"I've never been hurt like this before. I've never missed a game in any of my years – pee-wee, high school, middle school," he said, although he did miss the final regular-season game of his rookie year (2006) with a neck injury. "My frustration level is nowhere. I'm happy with my situation. I'm playing it safe and the trainers are playing it safe. When I'm ready to go out there and play, I'll go out there and perform for them."
Griffin has been working on cutting drills with a brace on his knee, but when it comes to straight-line conditioning the brace comes off. He said at the start of training camp he wanted to stay off the list he still finds himself on – the physically unable to perform (PUP) designation – and now he says the brace is also the decision of the medical staff.
"My opinion, no, I don't feel it's necessary to have it on there. It's precaution for the training staff, for them to feel good," Griffin said. "Obviously I can cut without my brace. I've done it before. It's just a cautionary thing. I'm going to play it safely until they tell me I can go full speed.
"I'm not going to play with the brace on. It's just something, I guess, to get their confidence going and get my confidence going. I'm fine without it or with it. But when it's time, when the bright lights come on, it will be off."
Griffin said he wanted to be practicing at the start of camp. That didn't happen. But his goal remains to make it back this season, and that appears to be a realistic plan that could be in the near future.
"He is coming along rapidly, to the point where you have to weigh do you take him off the PUP list so that he can get into individuals because he can't do that right now because he is on the PUP," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "You see him working with (defensive backs) coach Joe Woods after practice, which is what the rule allows. So yeah he is coming pretty quickly; kind of chomping at the bit."
For his part, Griffin is willing to listen to the trainers, but he's pushing for a quick return.
"I feel like I can go, yes I do. It's not even been seven months yet," he said. "I don't know how the ACL heals properly, but the doctors and the trainers do so I'm going to let them tell me what to do."
MONDAY P.M. PRACTICE NOTES
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.