Though defensive end Everson Griffen had a quiet night on the field in his first game back after treatment for mental health issues, the three-time Pro Bowl player sees more productive games coming for him over the next few weeks.
Griffen played 37 of the Vikings’ 53 defensive snaps Sunday night against the Saints, first entering the game as a third-down pass rusher and stepping into a larger role as the game progressed. Danielle Hunter, who started the game on the right side, was on the field for 44 snaps, while Stephen Weatherly played 25 after starting on the left side.
“I felt good,” Griffen said. “Being a pass rusher is one of the hardest things there is to do in the National Football League, or in any sport. It’s more intuitive than just getting lined up and rushing the passer. My number one goal is to just keep getting out there and knocking the rust off every day.”
Griffen’s only tackle was followed by a loud ovation in the second half, and while he finished without a quarterback hurry, he seemed happy with his conditioning level after five games away from the team. He sounded optimistic he’ll keep improving.
“I expect more out of myself, each and every week,” Griffen said. “I just need to get back to my form, and it’s coming back more and more each day.”
Cook feeling better
Running back Dalvin Cook, who has missed five of the Vikings’ past six games because of a hamstring injury, wouldn’t say if he’s going to play Sunday against the Lions. But after two weeks to largely rest his leg after an aborted attempt to play against the Cardinals, Cook said he’s had time for his hamstring to make a significant improvement.
“I feel great,” he said. “I’m at myself right now. They got me back to where I needed to be.”
Cook said he never had a setback with the injury he suffered Sept. 16 in Green Bay, but attempts to play through it never let him get back to full health. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, and said he’s in a “comfortable spot,” though he cautioned there’s no real way to replicate the full range of movements he’d employ in a game.
“That’s the big key — you can practice, you can run around, you can run straight, you can do all that,” Cook said. “But it’s about going out there with a person chasing you, turning your body, twisting your body. That’s when hamstrings occur. That’s how it occurred in the Green Bay game.
Diggs expects to play
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs didn’t practice for a second consecutive day because of a rib injury he suffered in the second quarter Sunday night, but he said he expects to play against the Lions.
Diggs came out of the game after a 3-yard screen pass against the Saints, and was gesturing to his ribs as athletic trainers examined him on the sideline after the play. He returned to finish the game as the team’s leading receiver, however, ending the night with 10 catches for 119 yards and one touchdown.
“I think I hit the ground just a little bit too hard that one time,” he said. “I was fine. I mean, I played the rest of the game. Just making it work, so I feel pretty good.”
In addition to Diggs, linebacker Anthony Barr and running back Roc Thomas remained out because of hamstring injuries and guard Tom Compton did not practice because of a sprained knee ligament.