EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s a delicate balance to know when the time was right, but leaning on his medical professionals, All-Pro defensive end Everson Griffen returned to the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday.

And to an extent, his comfort zone. But it’s still very much an ongoing healing process.

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It looked like it has for the last several years, Everson Griffen at practice. But this was in some regards monumental, because it was his first since leaving the team for a mental health issue.

“It felt great to see my guys, man. I love each and every one of my teammates, and it was just good to see the smiles on their faces and they welcomed me with open arms,” Griffen said.

If there is a consensus in the Minnesota Vikings’ organization regarding Everson Griffen, it is this: Football is important, but it has to take back seat now to him getting his life in order. That’s the message of the head coach, to understand it.

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“I don’t think this is as unique as to what we’re making it out to be. I mean this is an illness and he’s done a good job of helping to get better and he continues to try to get better and he’s probably going to have to continue to get better,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Just like we all have to do in life.”

Griffen is a key part of this roster but right now, it’s one day, one hour at a time.

“I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and where I want to go and the decisions I made. I just want to get better with some of the decisions that I made and just improve on them,” Griffen said.

And his teammates understand step one is he’s back.

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“Everyone here is super excited that he’s back, but the quicker we get back in the groove of things I feel like, the better. We have a tough opponent this week and we just got one of our most powerful weapons back,” defensive end Stephen Weatherly said.

Mike Max