Cedric Griffin has made no secret about his desire to return as soon as possible from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament suffered in overtime of the Vikings' loss last January to New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game.

Griffin, the Vikings' starting right cornerback, had no interest in being placed on the physically unable to perform list to begin training camp, but when he was the veteran committed himself to doing as much work as he possibly could off to the side.

In recent weeks, Griffin has taken the field after practice is finished at Winter Park and gone through intense drills conducted by defensive backs coach Joe Woods. Evidently, Griffin showed enough in those sessions that he was able to avoid being placed on the reserve/PUP list to begin this season.

Being on the active/PUP in training camp isn't a big deal because a player can be brought off that list at any time. But ending up on the reserve/PUP to start the regular season means a player has to sit out the first six weeks. The Vikings were able to avoid going down that road with Griffin, who was reported to the NFL office as having passed his physical.

The question now is when will Griffin be able to start practicing and eventually play in a game? Griffin was limited in what he could do -- and he was not allowed to take part in drills with the team -- when he was on the PUP. That no longer will be the case. Griffin is now free to practice with the Vikings.

Once he starts doing that, the team should get a better idea of when he will be able to play in a game. It isn't going to happen Thursday night for the regular-season opener in New Orleans and Griffin might actually end up being on the eight-man game-day inactive list for a few weeks.

In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if Griffin misses the first three games and then returns after the Vikings' bye in Week 4 by playing against the Jets on Monday night, Oct. 11.

It appears as if Lito Sheppard will replace Griffin in the short term, although with only three healthy cornerbacks on the roster another corner almost certainly is going to have to be brought in to provide depth.