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Everson Griffen Seeing Strides from Vikings Running Game

Everson Griffen has recently had plenty to be excited about.

He signed his second contract extension with Minnesota when the Vikings reported to training camp, and the team is getting closer and closer to the regular season.

Griffen recorded a sack in limited action at Buffalo in Minnesota's first preseason game last Thursday, and the team is preparing for its next outing, scheduled for 9 p.m. (CT) Friday in Seattle.

The defensive end and teammates were off on Monday, and Griffen took a break from playing with his two sons in the playroom of the family's home to call into SiriusXM's *NFL Blitz *with Bruce Murray and former Vikings teammate Geoff Schwartz.

When asked about what he's most excited about in 2017, Griffen didn't turn to a Vikings defense that has maintained a high degree of continuity from one that ranked in the top six in the NFL in yards allowed and scoring last season. Instead, he first pointed across the line of scrimmage.

"I think the biggest thing is our running game looking better with Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray finally getting back out there and seeing what he can do, little by little," Griffen said. "We have a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball: [Stefon] Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen.

"Our defense, we've got to be able to play at a high level for the whole 16 weeks," Griffen continued. "Last year we suffered a lot of injuries, but we never used that as an excuse. We just hope we can have a healthier season and go out there and keep on proving people wrong and win more games."

The Vikings rush offense ranked 32nd in the NFL in 2016, totaling 1,205 yards.

Minnesota signed Latavius Murray during free agency and then drafted Dalvin Cook after releasing Adrian Peterson, who missed all but three games in 2016 due to a torn meniscus. Murray has been recovering from ankle surgery and recently participated in his first practices in Purple after four seasons in Oakland.

Cook rushed five times for 13 yards and caught four passes for 30 yards in his NFL debut. He has impressed teammates and coaches with his approach and skills.

"He's looking good. He's reading the holes well," Griffen said. "He's getting off to a fast start. He's bursting. He's got a great burst. He's doing all of the right things. I think we've got to keep building that team chemistry, and he can be a great running back for the Minnesota Vikings.

"You're never going to replace Adrian, but [Dalvin is] coming in and he's being [himself]. He's not trying to be anybody but himself. … Dalvin can catch screens. He can catch the ball out of the backfield really good. He's a very diverse running back for us."

Griffen said he's looking forward to playing against Peterson, whom the Vikings are scheduled to host on Sept. 11 when they play the Saints in the season opener on Monday Night Football.

"I've known the guy for seven years, eight years," Griffen said. "He's one of the best running backs, and we always have our annual camp wrestling match, and we didn't get to have that this year because he's now in New Orleans. He knows the record. I'm 5-0. I've beat him five times in wrestling each and every year, so if you ask him, he knows the record.

"It was hard to see him go, but I'm excited," Griffen said. "He always had the 'red jersey' on. He was like a quarterback in our practice: don't [hit] Adrian, so now we get to [tackle] him a little bit."

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