Griffen views himself as a starter

Everson Griffen said he's "rolling with the ones" and considers himself a starter. He started only one game last year, but that's a misleading statistic in his case. He talked about his potential, his outlook in a contract year and how good the defensive line can be.

It happened almost as quickly as Everson Griffen's first move after the snap of the ball.

On Tuesday, Griffen had sacks against the first- and second-team offensive lines before the full-team portion of that practice could even move into the special categories. Just as quickly, he downplayed it.

"It's practice, so when the game time comes, that's when it really counts," he said.

Still, Griffen has been on a roll this week and will have an opportunity to prove it in "game time" next Sunday night, when the starters are expected to play into the third quarter and the aggressiveness ramps upward.

Last week, Griffen was treated as a starter because fellow defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison were among the starters that didn't play. Griffen played only six snaps before he was pulled to ensure he wasn't exposed to the possibility of injury in the game anymore. On Friday, he played only 14 snaps, less than either Robison or Allen.

Griffen started only one game last year, but he considers himself a starter.

"I'm rolling in with the ones. I feel that I'm a one. I feel that I've proved myself. I feel that when the game time comes I'm ready to help this team win big and that's what I'm here for, to help this team win big," he said.

"I'm here. I'm a starter here. I'm rolling in with the ones and we're going to make a big year out of it. I take my role as it is. They know what I can do, the players know what I can do and I take it as that."

He might as well. Writing that he has only one start without context is a bit misleading. He played in 54 percent of the defensive snaps last year, moving from one end to the other as well as sliding inside for some snaps at defensive tackle in passing situations.

With Allen and Robison in front of him, Griffen finished third on the team in sacks. Allen had 12 (dealing with shoulder and knee issues). Robison had 8½ (dealing with shoulder and elbow issues). Griffen had eight.

"We could be great. I feel that we could be the best group in the NFL, like running back group or any group. I'd put us up against anybody. We've just got to go out there and compete and make each other better, learn each other, and just grow," Griffen said.

Of course, the motivation is strong … for each of the top three defensive ends. All of them are in the final year of their contracts, with far different situations. Allen is 31 years old with the highest salary cap number on the team at $17.06 million, Robison is 30 with a cap number of $6.66 million, and Griffen is still only 25 and in the final year of his rookie contract that has a cap charge of $765,000.

Naturally, Griffen says he is letting his agents handle the money matters while he tries to increase his worth by his actions on the field. At this point, it isn't exactly clear just how good he can be.

"How far can you push yourself? You've got to be self-motivated, you've got to be willing to push yourself to the limit," he said. "That's all I've been working on."

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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