Everson Griffen deflected questions Thursday about his season-long goals or what could be his fourth Pro Bowl appearance if every game resembles Sunday’s, when the Vikings defensive end had one sack and two hits on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan in a 28-12 victory against the Falcons.
Griffen, in his 10th NFL season, instead kept his focus on maintaining his mental health and expressing gratitude for coach Mike Zimmer’s praise of the veteran’s play in the opener.
“It feels good, but the major thing for me right now is taking it one day at a time,” Griffen said. “I’m not going to say it’s easy, but each and every day I go in with the right mind-set and try to win the day, win the second and win the moment. It felt good to be back out there on the field with my boys, being myself and being me.”
Griffen, who turns 32 in December, said he’s “happy to be here, healthy” after two police incidents in September 2018 led to mental health treatment and his missing five games.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is it’s OK to seek help,” he said. “It’s OK to get help. It’s OK to reach out to somebody and ask for help. You know, it feels good. I’m happy to be back and happy to be in this locker room.”
Griffen said his inspiration is drawn from his family and team. The team captain looks like he’s in “Pro Bowl” form, according to Zimmer.
“I just know if I can stay the course, I’m making an impact with a lot of people,” Griffen said. “That’s what I want to do, is stay the course for my family, first and foremost, for my wife and my kids and for this team, because the Vikings organization took great care of me during my hard time.”
Elflein returns to practice
Pat Elflein (knee) returned to practice Thursday, meaning there’s a chance the third-year guard could play Sunday at Green Bay. Elflein was listed as “limited” after missing Wednesday’s practice because of a knee injury that emerged after he played all 53 snaps vs. the Falcons.
If Elflein can’t play, guard Dakota Dozier is expected to get a spot start for a fourth consecutive season. Dozier, a free-agent signing by the Vikings, started at least two games each of the last three seasons for the Jets, including last year under Rick Dennison, who is now the Vikings offensive line coach.
“Feeling good, if that’s the decision that is made,” Dozier said. “In my career, that’s what’s happened: If a guy gets nicked up, I jump in there and go.”
Doctson placed on IR
The Vikings placed receiver Josh Doctson on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury, apparently suffered during Wednesday’s practice when he was listed as “limited.” Doctson, 26, was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s opener less than a week after he was signed. He could return this season; NFL teams can activate two players from injured reserve, but only after eight weeks.
The Vikings promoted defensive back Nate Meadors, undrafted out of UCLA, to the 53-man roster. Receiver Alexander Hollins, the undrafted Eastern Illinois product who spent this preseason with the Vikings, was re-signed to the practice squad.
• Cornerback Mackensie Alexander (elbow) has been sidelined this week after dislocating his elbow on Sunday. Cornerback Mike Hughes (knee) remains limited in practice. Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari (back) did not practice Thursday.
• The Vikings and Packers enter Sunday tied for the NFC’s second-youngest rosters with an average age of 25.58 years — older than only the Buccaneers’ 25.38.