Everson Griffen, who re-signed with the Vikings this past offseason, has stepped into a larger role to match his larger contract. And so far so good for both parties as the five year pro seems to be on the fast track to earn his first Pro Bowl berth, which just so happens to be in his home state of Arizona this year.
Matt Vensel from the Star Tribune writes that Vikings made the right decision by investing in Griffen:
A starter for the first time in his fifth NFL season, Griffen is finally getting his opportunity to shimmy his way out of Jared Allen's sizable shadow. After getting the thumbs up from new head coach Mike Zimmer after he was hired, the organization bet big on Griffen, signing him to a five-year, $42.5 million contract even though he had started only one game in his career.
The returns are early, but Griffen is rewarding the Vikings for their investment. He has performed his sack dance in three consecutive games. And with a career-high three sacks during Sunday's 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Griffen has surged to second in the league with seven.
"I just had to wait for my time to come so I could go out there and do what I do," Griffen said.
*It wasn't easy for Griffen, a fourth-round pick from USC in 2010, to remain patient as he backed up Allen, who this season could crash into the top 10 of the NFL's career sack list, and fellow defensive end Brian Robison, who is a pretty good pass rusher in his own right. Even today, Griffen, who is as hyper as they come, isn't quite sure how he was able to sit still for so long. *
The Vikings tried to keep him busy as a backup, subbing him in as a pass-rushing specialist who could play with both speed and power while rushing from any spot along the defensive line. That important situational role allowed Griffen to record 17½ sacks in his first four seasons, including a career-high eight two seasons ago.
But after watching film of the Vikings when he arrived in January, Zimmer saw enough to conclude that Griffen was not only a one-trick pony who could only race after the quarterback. He saw a player who could set the edge against the run, too, and Griffen has done just that.
"Everson, since the day that we walked in, he's kind of been excited about this regime defensively a little bit, about how he can go from just being an athlete to being a football player," Zimmer said. "He's been very, very diligent about buying into what we're preaching, and it's not just about running up the field and sacking the quarterbacks."
If Griffen does get the Pro Bowl nod, he will become the first defensive end not named Jared Allen to be named to the annual all-star game since Chris Doleman in 1993.
-* *An injury update on John Sullivan via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.
- Vikings writer Craig Peters takes a timeout with rookie Shamar Stephen.
- Vikings pleased with Bridgewater's poise in handling pass rush, from FOX Sports North's Brian Hall.