EAGAN, Minn. - Veteran defensive end Everson Griffen looked a lot better in his second game back with the Vikings than he did in his first. Teammate Sheldon Richardson figures that sort of improvement will continue.
Griffen missed five games because of a mental health issue before returning Oct. 28 against New Orleans and getting two tackles and one quarterback hurry in 37 plays.
In his second game back Nov. 4 against Detroit, he had four tackles, 10 sacks and seven quarterback hurries in 52 plays.
“No question, he knows it,” Richardson, a defensive tackle, said of Griffen getting the rust off. “He’s getting his confidence back. He’s come back ready to work, and the only thing he can do is get better one day at a time.”
Asked Wednesday about his improvement, Griffen said he’s taking it “one thing at a time.”
The Vikings returned to the TCO Performance Center on Monday after being off since Nov. 6 on their bye week. They conducted their first full practice Wednesday.
“I chilled with the (family),” Griffen said of the time off. “I had a good time with the fam, and that’s it.”
The bye week provided quarterback Kirk Cousins an opportunity to do some self-scouting.
“We did talk about where we are ranked statistically in the league on some different things as well as some analytics of what other teams, opponents, are going to see when they look at us,” Cousins said.
Cousins said he studied plays to see if the Vikings have been doing anything on offense to tip off foes.
“We’ve got to make sure that a lot of plays look the same but are different or that plays that are the same would look different to the opponent,” he said.Injury report
The Vikings got back two starters at Wednesday’s practice, but two remained out.
Returning for the first full workout after the bye week were wide receiver Stefon Diggs (rib), who sat out against Detroit, and left guard Tom Compton (knee), who has missed two straight games. Diggs was listed as a full participant and Compton was limited.
Not practicing were starting linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring), who has been out the past two games, and starting safety Andrew Sendejo (groin), who has missed four in a row.
Also out was reserve tight end David Morgan, who suffered a knee injury against the Lions.
Also listed as limited were cornerback Xavier Rhodes (foot), wide receiver Adam Thielen (low back, calf) and guard Mike Remmers (low back).
Rhodes, who sat out Oct. 28 against New Orleans and had his snaps reduced against the Lions, said Monday he was feeling “a little better” after the bye week.
“I think we are getting healthier, but I won’t know until later on in the week,’’ Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said before Wednesday’s practice.
Zimmer said the bye week came at a good time.
“The biggest thing for us during the bye was to get (players) off their feet,’’ Zimmer said. “I know some guys worked out. It’s about trying to get your legs back. ... You get to the point where, ‘Man, I just need a break.’ ... They were tired going into (the Detroit game), I thought.’’
The only player listed Wednesday on the Bears’ injury report was tight end Dion Sims, who missed practice because of a concussion.Briefly
The Vikings nominated defensive end Danielle Hunter for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Each of the 32 NFL teams nominates a player. A panel of top former players will select eight finalists, four from the NFC and four from the AFC. NFL players will vote next month on the eight, with the winner announced Feb. 2, the day before Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
Coach Mike Zimmer is hopeful the Vikings picked up another explosive player in running back Ameer Abdullah, claimed off waivers last week from Detroit. “He is a guy that has great acceleration, quickness, catches the ball well, returner,” Zimmer said. “We’re just hopeful we can add another big-play piece for the offense.”
Soldier Field is known for sometimes having less-than-ideal field conditions. Laquon Treadwell expects Vikings receivers to start Sunday’s game wearing low-stud cleats with the option of switching to longer ones if necessary. “If we get to slipping, we’ll change cleats,” he said.