Notebook: Griffen gets plenty of LB exposure

Everson Griffen started at right defensive end and moved back to linebacker after a couple series. What did he and head coach Leslie Frazier think of his first performance at linebacker? Plus, it was a good night for the kickers, a rookie running back became a workhorse, and other notes.

Everson Griffen displayed unusual versatility in the Vikings' preseason finale, but it wasn't all smooth for the defender that coaches had moving between defensive end and linebacker.

Griffen, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2010 as a defensive end, started working at linebacker this week in practice. When it came to game time, Griffen got the start at defensive end and played there for two series before dropping back to weakside linebacker.

"It felt pretty natural. I've just got to get adjusted," Griffen said. "I'm a little bigger guy so I've just got to bend my knees a little bit more and just read my assignment and come downhill. I've got to get better each day at practice and it starts by watching film."

His lack of experience in pass coverage predictably showed early, with the Texans able to get free behind him in zone coverage.

"Just a little late reacting on my key, so once I get back there and get more snaps, get more reps, it will be easier," he said.

"The only thing I'm doing is when I'm in the two-point [stance], now I'm just reading the guard. When I'm down [at defensive end], I'm reading the tackle. I'm just reading the tackle and fullback. The hardest thing was probably coverage a little bit and just coming up and pressing the guy."

On series, Griffen lost contain on a run when he couldn't get off a block in space. On the first series of the second half, Griffen had to be directed to the other side of middle linebacker Heath Farwell, further showing his inexperience at the position.

"I thought he did some good things; at times he looked like he was a little bit out of place, but that was to be expected," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "More often than not he was where he needed to be and he made some plays for us. He had a nice breakup on a little end-route on a tight end. He looked comfortable, so I think there is a possibility for him as a backup linebacker."

The Vikings said this week that they would like to see if Griffen is good enough to play linebacker in certain packages, but he admitted he isn't sure if his part-time move there will stick now that the regular season approaches. For the fourth preseason game, he was at least able to enjoy the challenge.

"It was fun. I loved it. I didn't want to come out," he said.

KICKERS NIGHT

The Vikings offense stalled out near midfield on the first two drives of the game, but punter Chris Kluwe experienced no such troubles. Kluwe's first punt traveled 41 yards before Eric Frampton batted the ball back to Adrian Awasom, who downed it at the 1-yard line.

Kluwe was nearly as successful on his second attempt. Kicking from the 40-yard line, the ball hit at the 3-yard line and took a right turn out of bounds there. He ended up with three of his six punts inside the 20-yard line.

Kicker Ryan Longwell had his first two touchbacks of the preseason when he sent the opening kick of the second half 8 yards deep into the end zone and his final kickoff nearly sailed out of the end zone on the fly.

PUNT RETURNER COULD DETERMINE ROSTER SPOTS

The Vikings were still searching for a punt returner, and they still might not be settled on one as the regular season approaches, but Thursday night the two players who got a shot at that job were both roster-bubble possibilities.

Receiver Jaymar Johnson got the first opportunities and averaged only 3.7 yards on three returns. Cornerback Marcus Sherels returned two punts for a 7-yard average and nearly broke his final one down the right sideline, but he stepped out of bounds after a 7-yard gain.

KING FOR A NIGHT

Rookie running back, who wasn't selected in the supplemental draft, got his first opportunity in game action. He beat out quarterback Christian Ponder by one yard to be the team's leading rusher Thursday.

"We wanted to find out. We've only had him a few days, and we wanted to find out what he could and couldn't do," Frazier said. "I think he showed that he has a chance, so we will evaluate him tomorrow as well."

The Vikings have to cut their roster to 53 players by Saturday afternoon and King's best opportunity would seem to be the practice squad after signing with the Vikings on Aug. 22.

"He was in a tough spot, being a guy that declared late and went through the supplemental draft, but that's the situation that he was in, the situation that we're in, and so we will have to discuss him at length tomorrow and make a decision over the weekend," Frazier said.

King rushed 19 times for 62 yards, a 3.3-yard average, and had two touchdowns.

NOTES

  • Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was hopeful that the Vikings would have tight end Visanthe Shiancoe participating in Monday's practice. Shiancoe missed all four preseason games after injuring his hamstring in the first week of training camp. "We're looking forward to Shank being out there because he poses problems for defenses," Musgrave said. "Without him, I would say there are a handful of concepts that would be fun for us to put back into the offense when he returns."

  • The Vikings will likely have to put linebacker Jasper Brinkley on season-ending injured reserve or the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would keep him out at least six weeks. Brinkley had hip surgery on Tuesday.

  • Besides Brinkley, Frazier said he thinks all the other Vikings will be available for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in San Diego, including running back Lorenzo Booker, who missed Thursday with a back strain.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Everson Griffen displayed unusual versatility in the Vikings' preseason finale, but it wasn't all smooth for the defender that coaches had moving between defensive end and linebacker. Griffen, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2010 as a defensive end, started working at linebacker this week in practice. When it came to game time, Griffen got the start at defensive end and played there for two series before dropping back to weakside linebacker. \"It felt pretty natural. I've just got to get adjusted,\" Griffen said. \"I'm a little bigger guy so I've just got to bend my knees a little bit more and just read my assignment and come downhill. I've got to get better each day at practice and it starts by watching film.\" His lack of experience in pass coverage predictably showed early, with the Texans able to get free behind him in zone coverage. \"Just a little late reacting on my key, so once I get back there and get more snaps, get more reps, it will be easier,\" he said. \"The only thing I'm doing is when I'm in the two-point [stance], now I'm just reading the guard. When I'm down [at defensive end], I'm reading the tackle. I'm just reading the tackle and fullback. The hardest thing was probably coverage a little bit and just coming up and pressing the guy.\" On series, Griffen lost contain on a run when he couldn't get off a block in space. On the first series of the second half, Griffen had to be directed to the other side of middle linebacker Heath Farwell, further showing his inexperience at the position. \"I thought he did some good things; at times he looked like he was a little bit out of place, but that was to be expected,\" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. \"More often than not he was where he needed to be and he made some plays for us. He had a nice breakup on a little end-route on a tight end. He looked comfortable, so I think there is a possibility for him as a backup linebacker.\" The Vikings said this week that they would like to see if Griffen is good enough to play linebacker in certain packages, but he admitted he isn't sure if his part-time move there will stick now that the regular season approaches. For the fourth preseason game, he was at least able to enjoy the challenge. \"It was fun. I loved it. I didn't want to come out,\" he said. The Vikings offense stalled out near midfield on the first two drives of the game, but punter Chris Kluwe experienced no such troubles. Kluwe's first punt traveled 41 yards before Eric Frampton batted the ball back to Adrian Awasom, who downed it at the 1-yard line. Kluwe was nearly as successful on his second attempt. Kicking from the 40-yard line, the ball hit at the 3-yard line and took a right turn out of bounds there. He ended up with three of his six punts inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Ryan Longwell had his first two touchbacks of the preseason when he sent the opening kick of the second half 8 yards deep into the end zone and his final kickoff nearly sailed out of the end zone on the fly. The Vikings were still searching for a punt returner, and they still might not be settled on one as the regular season approaches, but Thursday night the two players who got a shot at that job were both roster-bubble possibilities. Receiver Jaymar Johnson got the first opportunities and averaged only 3.7 yards on three returns. Cornerback Marcus Sherels returned two punts for a 7-yard average and nearly broke his final one down the right sideline, but he stepped out of bounds after a 7-yard gain. Rookie running back, who wasn't selected in the supplemental draft, got his first opportunity in game action. He beat out quarterback Christian Ponder by one yard to be the team's leading rusher Thursday. \"We wanted to find out. We've only had him a few days, and we wanted to find out what he could and couldn't do,\" Frazier said. \"I think he showed that he has a chance, so we will evaluate him tomorrow as well.\" The Vikings have to cut their roster to 53 players by Saturday afternoon and King's best opportunity would seem to be the practice squad after signing with the Vikings on Aug. 22. \"He was in a tough spot, being a guy that declared late and went through the supplemental draft, but that's the situation that he was in, the situation that we're in, and so we will have to discuss him at length tomorrow and make a decision over the weekend,\" Frazier said. King rushed 19 times for 62 yards, a 3.3-yard average, and had two touchdowns.
  • Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was hopeful that the Vikings would have tight end Visanthe Shiancoe participating in Monday's practice. Shiancoe missed all four preseason games after injuring his hamstring in the first week of training camp. \"We're looking forward to Shank being out there because he poses problems for defenses,\" Musgrave said. \"Without him, I would say there are a handful of concepts that would be fun for us to put back into the offense when he returns.\"
  • The Vikings will likely have to put linebacker Jasper Brinkley on season-ending injured reserve or the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would keep him out at least six weeks. Brinkley had hip surgery on Tuesday.
  • Besides Brinkley, Frazier said he thinks all the other Vikings will be available for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in San Diego, including running back Lorenzo Booker, who missed Thursday with a back strain.
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