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NOTEBOOK: Griffen on His Health & Short Turnaround for the Lions

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Everson Griffen returned to the lineup but saw his streak of eight consecutive games with at least one sack end in Sunday's 24-7 win over the Rams.

The Vikings defensive end couldn't care less though, as he said Monday he's more concerned with team goals than personal stats.

Griffen missed Minnesota's Week 10 win at Washington with a foot injury. He said he's on the road to improved health and has a friendlier disposition than in recent weeks.

"It held up well and is only going to get better," said Griffen, who played 45 of 59 defensive snaps. "I'm excited and I'm happy. My morale is up.

"I'm happier because nobody likes injured Everson," Griffen added. "I'm very grouchy, so like [Vikings Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman] always says, I make everybody miserable when I'm miserable." 

Griffen leads the Vikings with 10 sacks and is tied for fourth in the NFL. He had at least one sack in the first eight games before being unable to get one Sunday against the Rams. 

But with the Vikings sitting at 8-2 and in first place in the NFC North, Griffen said his team's sole focus is now getting ready to play a crucial division road game in three days.

Griffen stressed both mental and physical preparation in advance of the Thanksgiving Day matchup.

"It's a big game. Detroit is a big game, so it's going to be more of a mental game than anything," Griffen said. "We have to stick to the game plan and listen to our coaches as well, but it's going to be a mental game.

"We've got to get these mental reps today during our walk-through, then have practice tomorrow, then hit the road [Wednesday]," Griffen said. "The biggest thing for us is being able to lock in for the short week and be ready to play, get your bodies as fresh as possible by getting your massages, your acupuncture, whatever you've got to do to get your body back to normal as much as you can."

The Lions, who sit at 6-4 and in second place in the NFC North, are riding a three-game win streak.

Detroit got the best of Minnesota in the teams' first meeting, a 14-7 Vikings loss back in Week 4.

With the teams more than familiar with each other, Griffen said there isn't much that the teams do that surprises each other anymore.

"You've always got to prepare," Griffen said. "We play these guys two times in our division, so you're always prepping more because they know you the best.

"You've got to prep a little more and stay more dialed in because you go up against guys twice a year," Griffen added. "We're just going to game prep like we normally do, go out there and be ready to go." 

The Vikings have won six straight games since losing to the Lions on Oct. 1. Griffen said the Vikings will be ready to roll at 11:30 a.m. (CT) Thursday.

"We're winning games right now, so we're ready to play," Griffen said. "If we had to play again today, I think we'd muster it up and be ready to play."

Ham makes an impact

C.J. Ham played 24 offensive snaps Sunday, his highest total of the season and most since getting on the field for 22 plays in Week 3 against Tampa Bay.

The Vikings fullback's impact was felt as Minnesota rushed for a season-high 171 yards and found the end zone twice.

Ham also had a season-high three carries, picking up eight yards and moving the chains on two of his runs.

The Minnesota native said he's stayed mentally sharp for any role he's needed for this season.

"Regardless of how many reps I get in practice or the game, I have to make sure I do my job every single time," Ham said.  "I'm not going to know when my number is called, but I make sure I'm prepared throughout the whole week."

Ham is in his first season as the full-time fullback after converting from running back this offseason.

He has six carries for 12 yards this season, including a 1-yard touchdown run.

"Just the willingness to go out and doing it," Ham said of what he's learned. "I make sure I'm still on top of my stuff … obviously I'm still learning and getting better each game and gaining more confidence."

Tuning out the noise 

The Vikings offense is much-improved from last season in multiple categories. Minnesota ranks fifth overall with 372.5 yards per game.

The Vikings have used a balanced attack as the rushing offense is eighth at 123.3 yards per game, and the passing offense is 12th at 249.2 yards per game.

Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright was asked about the extra publicity the team has gotten, but said the team hardly pays any attention to the national media pundits.

"Honestly, we don't listen to that," Wright said. "We don't pay attention to all the outside noise.

"It's all about inside this building because when we were down and when we were out, the only people who believed in us were the people here," Wright added. "It's all about us in here, and it's all about getting our jobs done at a high level. We knew we could do it."

Injury reports

Neither the Vikings nor Lions practiced Monday, but the teams did release injury reports, based on what players' statuses would have been.

For the Vikings: Mackensie Alexander (ankle), Xavier Rhodes (calf), Brian Robison (low back), Mike Remmers (concussion) would have been categorized as "did not participate." Emmanuel Lamur (knee), Griffen (foot) and Andrew Sendejo (groin/hamstring) would have been "limited." Anthony Harris (hamstring) would have been a full participant.

For the Lions: Jamal Agnew (knee) and Dwayne Washington (hip) would have been categorized as "did not participate." Ezekiel Ansah (back) would have been "limited," and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (ankle) would have been a "full" participant.

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