Vikings keeping tabs on Griffen's effort

Everson Griffen came to Minnesota with a reputation as a talented but inconsistent player. So far, he's living up to the first trait and dispelling the second, according to coaches and teammates, and he knows they're watching. See what Griffen, Leslie Frazier and Kevin Williams had to say about the topic.

Consistency has been the buzzword when it comes to fourth-round draft choice Everson Griffen.

He didn't have it in college at Southern California, which likely contributed to his draft stock slipping, and the Vikings were planning to keep a close watch on his commitment to the game. So far, so good for the rookie defensive end.

"He runs real hard. He's got a high motor. It seems like and when he gets the defense down and those different things, I think he's going to have a good chance to maybe get in the rotation with it," said Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who saw Griffen practicing for the first time last week.

Griffen attended the Vikings rookie camp and has been at each of the first two weeks of organized team activities. He will likely continue through the next two weeks and then attended the mandatory minicamp.

But it's not his mere presence at the voluntary practices that have impressed some observers, it's his dedication to getting better. Griffen has spent time working with Brian Robison and other players and coaches after practices in an attempt to get better quickly.

"I had Brian Robison working with me and just trying to learn from the best. Start early and catch up to where they're at – probably not fully where they're at, but just catch up and learn more," Griffen said after an OTA practice last month, adding that he's settling in to a feeling of comfort.

"I'm just trying to learn my role, just play whatever they give me and come out here and put my best foot forward."

Griffen has shown his quick first step in one-one-one drills and during full-team work, but without pads on it's hard to gauge exactly what kind of a player he will end up being. Williams just knows that he won't be slacking too much with a Pro Bowl cast of teammates on the defensive line.

"If you're around us, you know it's going to be a tough row to hoe," Williams said. "If he's slacking, we're going to let him know, and fast. I think with all the guys we've got as leaders, he won't be caught slacking."

But Griffen also doesn't think he's deserves the assessment that he doesn't compete hard.

"I don't believe that. I always came out here. I always worked hard throughout my football career and that's what I'm going to keep on doing – working hard and learning," he said. "All this is a learning process and I'm willing to learn and adapt to the new surrounding and that's all I'm trying to do.

"If you're in the NFL, you've got to compete. If you don't compete, you're not going to be here. I'm trying to compete and be the best player I can be, and being a Minnesota Viking I'm loving being out here in Minnesota, loving the organization and just happy to be a part of this team."

Griffen has been working on both side of the defensive line, but he hasn't gotten much practice inside as a pass-rushing defensive tackle. The Vikings have said they were intrigued by his versatility and could elect to try him there on obvious passing downs.

Still, he knows the coaches are looking to make sure he doesn't live up to the reputation he gained at USC. He's trying to improve on his technique, but he knows what the coaches are looking for in him.

"The main thing is just hustling. They want to see everybody hustle, no matter if it's a veteran or whoever. They just want to see everybody hustle," he said.

Said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier: "He's making a conscious effort to be consistent every rep. We talked to him about that prior to the draft. We've talked to him about that since we've had him. He's making that effort to play with a high motor all the time. I think the guys that we have, they're going to demand it from him as well as the coaches.

"So he won't have a chance to really slip back to some of his old habits. If he does, we've got enough people to really push him."

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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