"That to me is a positive," Dilfer said. "The mind is getting clearer. My head doesn't hurt as much. My balance is better, everything."
Dilfer, 35, already has been ruled out for Saturday night's game against Cincinnati and Shaun Hill will make his first career start. There's a chance Dilfer won't play again this season.
"I'll be very careful with Trent with the injury he sustained," coach Mike Nolan said. "He took quite a shot to the head. He did tell me that he feels better but he doesn't feel totally healthy."
Dilfer, speaking extensively for the first time since incurring the concussion just before halftime last Sunday, admitted he lost consciousness for about five seconds after taking the blow to the head.
He suffered the injury at the end of a desperate fourth-down scramble when Vikings cornerback Charles Gordon lowered his shoulders to tackle him, striking Dilfer with tremendous force across the front of his helmet.
Dilfer was on the ground motionless for a brief time in a scene frighteningly reminiscent of Steve Young's career-ending concussion at Arizona in 1999.
He came to seconds later and, through shooting pain in his head, hands and chest, managed to
Dilfer also remembered groggily asking trainers Jeff Ferguson and Jeff Tanaka and Nolan, who were huddled over him on the field, whether he had made the first down and hearing them say, "Yes."
"I didn't find out they lied until I saw the tape the next day," Dilfer said.
Dilfer was taken by ambulance to Stanford Hospital for observation and was released Sunday evening. He is not practicing this week to avoid all contact and continues to undergo evaluations.
"There's a new awareness to the whole head injury thing and I commend the NFL," Dilfer said. "I was telling my wife, five years ago I would have practiced on Wednesday. You just wouldn't know any better."
Dilfer said it was the third major concussion he has suffered since breaking into the league in 1994 as Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick. He suffered his first in 1995 while with the Buccaneers and kept playing after taking the hit. The second one occurred in 2001 in Oakland while with Seattle, but he was knocked out and removed from the game.
Nevertheless, Dilfer said the latest one was the worst.
"The previous two I had were not as painful," he said. "This one, I was just in a great deal of pain, in my head, in my face. I remember telling myself, 'You've got to move something so your family sees that you're not paralyzed.'"
The game was halted for about five minutes as players from both teams took a knee and watched silently as medical staff tended to Dilfer. He eventually was helped to his feet and, with trainers on either side of him, limped slowly to the sideline. There he was loaded onto a cart and driven to the locker room and later transferred to an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
Dilfer said Minnesota guard Steve Hutchinson -- a friend from their days with the Seahawks -- later called to express support and concern on behalf of the Vikings.
Dilfer said he had no problem with the shoulder-to-helmet blow from Gordon that leveled him.
"It was a clean hit," Dilfer said. "No foul play. Watching it on film, I actually thought he made an effort to try not to hit me in the head."
Dilfer said he remains hopeful that he'll be back before the end of the season but he's leaving that call in the hands of professionals.
"My mind-set is to try to come back, but I'm going to trust the people that know what they're talking about," said Dilfer, who has one year remaining on his contract. "I have the fullest confidence in our medical staff and our head coach's discernment concerning those issues. I will be ready to play if I'm medically cleared and the team sees fit."
Contact Dennis Georgatos at firstname.lastname@example.org.