Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Everson Griffen back where he belongs
By Kevin Seifert
During my time at the Minnesota Vikings' training camp, one of the hottest topics of conversation was whether the team had the personnel to follow through on plans to reduce snaps for starting defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison. The third-best defensive end on the team, Everson Griffen, was working exclusively as a linebacker and depth beyond him was unknown.
In the end, we wondered if Griffen was destined to return to defensive end.
That appears to be the case, provided he isn't sidelined by a knee issue that arose Monday.
Griffen was back to working at end during Monday's practice, and coach Leslie Frazier told reporters: "We saw enough of him at linebacker where we feel like this is going to be better for him. … He agrees that it's better for him to focus on that position."
Griffen wasn't going to beat out Erin Henderson for playing time at weakside linebacker, and there was an obvious need for a credible backup at defensive end. But the experiment wasn't a total waste, I don't think. Griffen has appeared effective as a stand-up defensive lineman in the Vikings "3-3" nickel package, and spending some time in a linebacker role could only help his comfort level in that alignment.
In the end, the real test will be whether defensive coordinator Alan Williams can find a way to get Griffen regular work at defensive end. Allen played more snaps (1,004) than any defensive end in the NFL last season. Robison was close behind. There is no reason to wear down starters to that extent -- as long as there is a viable alternative. Now, there is.