Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was asked Thursday if the team expects defensive end Everson Griffen to return at any point in the 2018 season.

“I saw the report and I think it was false,” Zimmer said. “Let’s just say that.”

What report?

“There was a report from, was it [ESPN’s Adam] Schefter?” Zimmer turned asking to his public relations director. “Schefter.”

ESPN reported Sunday prior to the Vikings’ 23-21 win in Philadelphia that Griffen wasn’t expected to return to the team “anytime soon” as he focuses on his mental health.

Asked again Thursday to confirm that he thought the report was false, meaning the Vikings do expect Griffen to return soon, Zimmer winked in lieu of additional comment.

Griffen, 30, had the police called on him twice on Sept. 22 for two separate incidents of erratic behavior. He was taken in an ambulance and underwent a mental health evaluation. On Sept. 27, Griffen said in a statement that there was no timetable for his return, but that he vowed to return a “much-improved person and player.”

Griffen, whose locker on Thursday had a couple boxes piled in front of it, has not returned to the Vikings this week. He was officially listed as not practicing on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s very unlikely he’d return for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium as the Vikings plan for the game this week without him.

The fact Griffen remains on the 53-man roster while about to miss what will be his fourth game of the season on Sunday is an indication the Vikings are not closing the door on his return this season.

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