Everson Griffen’s evolution in the Vikings defense continues.
The 2010 fourth-round pick out of USC spent his second straight day working with linebackers in individual drills, and Tuesday he got some repetitions there with the defense.
Defensive coordinator Fred Pagac said the Vikings started discussing the move about a week ago. Griffen was informed of it on Sunday.
“He's a very good athlete, a great athlete, has good knowledge,” Pagac said. “Before it's all said and done, he's going to be a good defensive end – he might end up being a heck of a linebacker, too. We just want to check his movement from behind the ball."
Pagac expects Griffen to play about 50 percent of the snaps at defensive end and 50 percent at linebacker in Thursday’s preseason finale. After that, the coaching staff can determine if it’s worth continuing to take a look at him at the second level of the defense.
“This is a test for him, a test for us to find out what he can do. We just want to know what his capabilities are, find out whether he'll be able to help us down the road if something were to happen to pop up at that point,” Pagac said. “… He's going to be playing a lot of football this week."
Last year, Griffen played in 6.5 percent of the Vikings’ defensive snaps last year and registered seven tackles, so working his way into certain defensive packages as a linebacker should increase his action.
“We think he's grown up and he's maturing. Obviously, he has to continue to do so. If he wants to be a great player, which I hope everybody on our defense wants to be, he's going to work at it and do his best to help the team,” Pagac said.
WRECKING THE GAME-WRECKERS
Adrian Peterson finished Saturday night’s game with 14 carries and 81 yards rushing, and the Vikings’ offensive line helped pave the way for a 6.5-yard average per rush against the Dallas Cowboys. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was pleased the performance.
“They really were blocking the run well,” he said. “Normally, we’d run the ball a lot more than we did the other night. But it being a preseason game, we wanted to keep Adrian in check and not end up with 28 carries for him. We wanted to keep it right around a dozen. We didn’t achieve that, but that was our goal. But very encouraging. They moved them off the ball. [Linebackers Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware] are definitely game-wreckers, and our guys took that as a challenge and handled them.”
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams practiced for the second straight day after missing all of last week with plantar fasciitis.
CB Asher Allen (toe), RB Lorenzo Booker (back), CB Devon Torrence (quad), LB Jasper Brinkley (hip), OL Chris DeGeare (concussion) and Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) all sat out of practice on Tuesday for at least the second straight day.
Pagac said he hasn’t made any determination yet on the battle between Jamarca Sanford or Tyrell Johnson for the starting strong safety position. “The guys have been fighting all camp. I think both of them have done an excellent job,” Pagac said. “Obviously, they're going to continue to fight and we're going to make a decision after this game."
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said he would love to use Percy Harvin as much as he can on kick returns. This week, however, it will probably be Cord Parks, Stephen Burton and Marcus Sherels. Booker is expected to miss Thursday’s game with his back injury.
Greg Camarillo is still an option as the punt returner, but it could be more situational with him – at the end of games when they need a sure-handed returner or someone to decide whether or not to field punt inside the 10-yard line. Jaymar Johnson and Sherels handled punt-return duties on Tuesday.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.