Griffin iffy, but Vikes won't rule him out of season opener

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have not ruled out cornerback Cedric Griffin playing this week in New Orleans.

Griffin blew out his left knee in the NFC championship game against the Saints last January, an anterior cruciate ligament injury that typically requires about nine months of recovery. Griffin recently returned to practice, but he was listed as a limited participant on the injury report released Monday by the Vikings.

"The fact that he's out here practicing gives us some hope, and so we're just trying to ascertain over the next couple of days -- is it a real possibility?" defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "We're going to give it another day and just see how he does tomorrow, but he has already done far more than we expected when we decided to put him" on the active 53-man roster.

Griffin is clearly ready mentally, whether his legs are truly in game shape or not.

"My body's fine. I always had good wind, so that's never a problem," he said. "I really feel good right now."

Griffin said he's been taking turns in practice with the first team defense this week. Only individual position drills are open for media viewing.

"I'm doing my part, and I'm just making it happen," he said. "I'm glad they allowed me to practice right now and do what I can do out there so far."

Starter Antoine Winfield seemed to contradict what Frazier and Griffin suggested about his participation level.

"I've seen him running around out there, but he hasn't really taken any reps in our period," Winfield said.

Even if Griffin pulls off the improbable and suits up against the Saints, the Vikings still appear vulnerable at a critical position, particularly against a prolific passing team. Asher Allen and Lito Sheppard are the only other fully healty cornerbacks next to Winfield, with rookie Chris Cook out with a knee injury. Cook didn't practice Monday.

"That's tough to go into the season with only three, right now, healthy bodies," Winfield said. "But this is our job. This is what we do. We have to go with who's healthy."

Frazier downplayed the pursuit of a free agent. He said safety Husain Abdullah is a possible emergency cornerback.

Backup defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy also sat out of practice because of a knee injury he's been bothered by for weeks. Other players listed as limited were running back Toby Gerhart (knee), safety Jamarca Sanford (ankle) and center John Sullivan (calf).

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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