EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen is planning to travel with the Vikings to Washington and play in Sunday's game following the unexpected death of his mother, saying that is what she would have wanted.
"She loved to watch me play, and that's why I'm back here to show her that I'm doing this for her," Griffen said. "Not just for her but for me too, that I'm growing into a man and just working hard."
Griffen returned to practice on Friday after missing the day before. He learned on Wednesday of the death of his mother, Sabrina Scott, who'd been in town visiting him.
"Just shocking. My mom was 100 percent healthy. We'll find out soon what the cause was," Griffen said, declining to go into more detail.
The third-year player from USC, who is tied for the Vikings lead with three sacks, said he's trying to stay strong for his brother, father and stepfather. The maturity she tried to teach him has suddenly become more important than ever for Griffen, a native of Avondale, Ariz., who with his fiancee is expecting his first child in January.
"It's not about me no more. It's about my family," Griffen said, describing his mother as "just a wonderful lady" with an outgoing, engaging personality.
"I'm just happy to have a mom like that and one day we'll meet again. She's in a better place right now, and I know the Lord has her," Griffen said.
Several of his teammates visited him on Wednesday evening after he got the bad news.
"That's the only reason I'm here because I feel safe here," he said, adding: "It kind of helps me ease the pain a little bit, but it's still a tremendous and deep burning inside."
As irrelevant as injuries are in light of loved-one lost, the Vikings were happy about the improvement during the week shown by wide receiver Jerome Simpson and running back Adrian Peterson. Simpson was a limited participant in Friday's practice. The lower-back problem that's caused weakness and numbness in his lower leg has subsided, but "not quite" to the point where he's full strength, coach Leslie Frazier said. Simpson's status for Sunday's game was to be determined later.
Simpson was listed as questionable to play the Redskins on the injury report. Peterson, who sprained his left ankle in last week's game, is probable. Frazier said he has looked "much better" in practice. Linebacker Marvin Mitchell was listed as doubtful after a flare-up of his calf strain. Safety Mistral Raymond, who suffered a bone bruise in his right ankle, started running on the side but was limping noticeably. He'll be out for at least two more weeks.
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