Barry Cofield walked into the Washington Redskins' locker room and was a little surprised to see cornerback Cedric Griffin, back after a four-game suspension.
"It kind of caught me off-guard. I was like, 'Yeah I forgot that he would be eligible to come back,''' Cofield said. "During the run, you're so short-sighted; you're only thinking week to week."
This week, as the Redskins prepare to face the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild-card round of the playoffs, they could have Griffin back as part of a rejuvenated secondary. If active, Griffin will reprise his role as the third corner, and safety DeJon Gomes could be back after missing the regular-season finale with a knee injury.
"It's going to feel good, and it's big for us. We're getting everybody back," safety Jordan Pugh said. "Having Ced back, you know he's going to be hungry. He's been gone for four weeks now. Just seeing him back, it's a refresher."
Coach Mike Shanahan pointed out that what Griffin brings to the Redskins' defense will depend on how good of football shape he is in. Wednesday's practice showed a player who "looked like he's been away for a few weeks," Shanahan said.
It was his first day back on the field after missing the final four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy. He was prohibited from practicing with the Redskins or being at the team's practice facility during his suspension, so he ran, rode a bike, lifted weights and did agility and footwork drills to stay in shape.
Griffin is eager to put to rest any questions about his readiness.
"I was a track athlete growing all the way up, so my conditioning has never been a problem for myself," he said. "Lifting weights has never been a problem. I'm in great shape, to be honest with you. If I get my chance to get out there on the field, I'm sure I'll get out there and prove it to you guys."
Griffin had been playing well before the suspension and is confident he'll be able to return to that level. He's "grateful" the Redskins continued their winning streak to give him another chance to play this season.
So is Gomes, whose second-degree sprain of his left MCL made him a spectator Sunday night when the Redskins could have seen their season end.
"That was the hardest part about making the decision for Sunday between me, the trainers and the coaches. Just because I know how bad I wanted to be out there, but I knew it would've been detrimental to myself and to the team," Gomes said. "I trusted in the guys, and they went out there and played hard, and we won the game."
The Redskins might not be at full-strength, given that cornerback D.J. Johnson suffered a left knee injury against Dallas and did not practice Wednesday. If Johnson cannot play against Seattle on Sunday, rookie Richard Crawford would fill in as the fourth cornerback behind Josh Wilson, DeAngelo Hall and Griffin.
© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.