In a year when the NFL saw a former Vikings linebacker turned defensive lineman (Chris Doleman) go into the Hall of Fame, the team is attempting another similar position change, but in the opposite direction.
The Vikings are making a concerted effort to turn former defensive end Everson Griffen into a linebacker, and at Monday's practice, Griffen had his hands on a potential interception at the position before it slipped through his fingers.
“I tried to score before I caught it; I took my eyes off the ball,” said Griffen of the play. “You got to look it in. That's the first thing you have to do, you've got to look it in to be able to catch the ball.”
Last season, Griffen played on the defensive line, some linebacker and even as the gunner on the punt team. But this year, the Vikings are in need of linebacker depth and coach Leslie Frazier is having Griffen concentrate on the position full-time.
“He's been kind of sporadic,” Frazier said of Griffen's transition. “He's had some good moments and some other moments where we'd like him to come a little faster. We're going to give him a little time and see how he does throughout this week and even in the San Francisco game.
"Then we'll sit down and evaluate things after the game. But he's showing sparks at times that he can get this done at the linebacker position.”
Frazier said the coaches are also keeping Griffen in on the third down package as a rushing lineman. And they will evaluate Griffen in both positions in the San Francisco game.
Griffen, who has played mostly third string reps at linebacker in practice recognizes this first preseason game as a chance to perhaps change that status.
“I'm excited just to prove myself,” said Griffen. “I think I‘ve been doing well. There's always room for improvement for anybody. I just have got to go out there and keep up the hustle and keep up the work. So, once preseason starts, all I have to do is go out there and show I can do it.”
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