EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Everson Griffen revealed this week the foot problem that sidelined him for one of Minnesota’s game last month was a plantar fascia injury. That painful condition in the ligament connecting the heel to the toes can linger for weeks and significantly limit a player’s strength.
That sure hasn’t slowed him since he returned. Whatever resistance Griffen has faced this year has done little to sidetrack his relentless pursuit of the ball for the Vikings at his right defensive end position.
After getting hurt at the end of the game against Cleveland in London, Griffen needed the bye week and the game at Washington on Nov. 12 to rest. After a soft launch the following week, when his eight-game sack streak ended, Griffen came back four days later with two sacks at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day . He got five hits on quarterback Matt Ryan at Atlanta the week after that. Then he got his 13th sack of the season at Carolina.
Against the Lions, Falcons and Panthers, Griffen played 93.2 percent, 94.3 percent and 93.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Those are his three highest totals in 2017.
“I feel great. I don’t mind. I take care of my body. I’m a dog. That’s what dogs are supposed to do. You go out there and work. I’m going to work,” said Griffen, who spent his Monday morning in a hyperbaric chamber, immersed in cryotherapy treatment, getting a massage and soaking in the hot and cold tubs before meeting with his personal movement coach .
Since signing a four-year contract extension worth as much as $58 million right before training camp began, Griffen has taken his game to an even higher level for a defense that’s been one of the league’s elite units. Since he became a full-time starter in 2014, his fifth NFL season, Griffen has 43½ sacks. That’s second in the league in that span, trailing only Von Miller of the Denver Broncos with 48½.
“They pay me big money to play big time,” Griffen said , “so you’ve got to play.”
Durability has been as important as his ability. He has missed two games for health reasons in his career, one for a heart-related scare in 2015, then the foot problem last month.
“I’m a workhorse. I don’t feel worn down. I don’t feel beat down. I feel like I’m ready to go,” Griffen said.
After enduring early knee injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook, the Vikings (10-3) have enjoyed a relatively healthy season, particularly when compared to the carnage around the league to key players.
This week, with Cincinnati (5-8) on the schedule Sunday and the chance to clinch the NFC North title with a win at home, the injury bug has begun to catch up to them a bit.
Left tackle Riley Reiff (ankle), tight end Kyle Rudolph (ankle), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hip) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (ribs) were all held out of practice Wednesday. Eight other players, including four starters, were limited. With Blake Bell (hip) held out and David Morgan (concussion) limited, all three tight ends on the active roster were dealing with injuries.
“This time of year you end up getting a lot of injuries,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “Knock on wood, we’ve been fairly healthy, and hopefully we continue to stay that way.”
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