Defensive end Everson Griffen is working on some new moves.
"[I'm working on] a fake spin inside," Griffen said. "I got away from my speed last year, and I have a lot of speed. I'm using my speed, my speed to power, my spin back inside and then my fake spin.
"I'm just trying to develop my craft," Griffen added. "You really only need three to four moves as a defensive end, and you master those to become great."
Vikings opponents, be warned.
Griffen spoke with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on KFAN 100.3-FM Tuesday morning on the ***9 to Noon* show** about the offseason and what fans can expect from the Vikings defense in 2016.
Last season, Griffen led the team in sacks (10.5), tackles for loss (17) and quarterback hurries (76) while adding 49 tackles (27 solo). Coming off his first career Pro Bowl appearance, Griffen feels confident moving into the 2016 season under the direction of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
"We have a very complicated defense, but [Coach Zimmer] makes all the right calls," Griffen said.
The defensive end said he and his teammates have a number of things to think about on the line – and when they get it right, it pays off.
"We have to have our assignments down," Griffen said. "You have to know what gaps you're in, you have to know your right alignment, how far you should be off the ball, and it just causes a lot of confusion for other offenses to pick us up. We bring pressure from everywhere – up the middle, from the side, we have [Harrison Smith] drop all the way down – we just bring pressure everywhere. It keeps teams off balance."
As Griffen focuses on improving each and every day, he helps the younger players do the same. The 2016 season will mark Griffen's seventh in the league, and he feels that veterans teaching first- and second-year players is all part of improving the team.
"I help all the young guys," Griffen said. "We need every guy on our team to get better, and that's how you win."
One player continuing to learn alongside Griffen is Danielle Hunter, who came in second on the team in sacks (6.0) behind his on-field mentor. Hunter's sack total ranked him second in the league among rookies and was the fifth-most by a first-year player in team history. Hunter also recorded 34 tackles (24 total), 10 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hurries in his debut season.
"Danielle, he [played great ball]," Griffen said. "I expect him to do more and more each year. He could be a great football player for this team. It's just up to him to put in the time and the effort and the dedication to become great if he wants to be."
There's one area where every player on the roster will be a rookie in 2016: U.S. Bank Stadium. After playing two years outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings will move into their state-of-the-art new home.
Minnesota will host a Sept. 18 home opener rematch against the Packers, whom the Vikings dethroned as NFC North division champs in January, and Griffen is excited to participate in the stadium's inaugural season.
"It's going to help us out immensely with the crowd noise and everything," Griffen said.
At home games, Griffen hopes noise will make it difficult for opposing offenses to hear the snap count, which could help the defense get off the ball quicker and pressure the quarterback.
"The quarterback feels the pressure, he gets the ball out quicker, you get more interceptions, you get more batted-down passes, you get in the throwing lanes," Griffen said. "We have to make the quarterback feel us each week, because it starts and ends with the O-line and D-line. We just have to take those next steps to become great."
Griffen's mindset mirrors that of Zimmer: keep moving forward, and keep improving. It's hard to please Zimmer, and that's the type of coach Griffen wants to play for.
"I feel like when we win, he's more upset [than when we lose]," Griffen said, laughing. "Zimmer, he's one of the best coaches in the NFL, and I'm happy to be a part of it. He's a players' coach, and he just coaches.
"We're getting more smiles each and every day from him, and that's a good sign," Griffen added. "I just have to keep him smiling, keep him happy. And we keep him happy by working hard each day."
To listen to this radio segment in its entirety or hear other interviews with Paul Allen, visit the 9 to Noon page on ****KFAN.com***.*