Vikings’ Everson Griffen will reportedly return against Saints after five-week absence

A little more than a month after he was the subject of a Minneapolis police investigation, Everson Griffen is set to return to the field for the Minnesota Vikings’ anticipated “Sunday Night Football” game against the New Orleans Saints.

The three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher has not played since Week 2. After initially being deactivated for the Vikings’ Week 3 loss to the Buffalo Bills with what the team deemed a knee injury, Griffen was excused for a five-week absence from the team while dealing with a “personal matter” — mental health concerns that were on display in a Star Tribune report centered on his apparent paranoia and aggression at both Vikings practice and at home.

As NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Friday, however, Griffen is expected to play on Sunday night.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would not confirm whether Griffen would be active for the game, but the defensive end told reporters he’s “able to play football” this weekend, and the team announced Griffen’s return to the facility earlier in the week.

“I’m just excited to get back here with my team and get back to the grind,” Griffen told the media this week. “It’s been hard to be away, but I’m happy to be back. It’s a good feeling right now and I’m taking one day at a time and one thing at a time to get things back on track.”

Griffen has been a full-time starter at defensive end since 2014, posting three double-digit sack seasons, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll return to the lineup immediately. Most importantly, he appears to be in a good condition off the field. As NFL Network noted, the Vikings required Griffen to undergo a mental-health evaluation before returning to the team at the start of his absence. The ninth-year veteran acknowledged his “personal issues” at the time and promised to “return as a much-improved person and player.”

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