EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was ruled out for Sunday’s game against Buffalo, but Stephen Weatherly feels confident stepping in.
Weatherly believes he’s taken a significant step forward in his third NFL season.
“It just took me a while to get used to the technique and how to execute the way that [Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer] wants us to,” Weatherly said.
Zimmer was asked about Weatherly Thursday afternoon and said he’s seen improvement in the 24-year-old.
“He’s more reactive and doesn’t do so much by the numbers,” Zimmer said. “He used to stutter his feet on the rush, and he’s not doing that anymore.”
Weatherly, in line to start behind Griffen, said he’s confident in the rotation the Vikings can have Sunday with himself, Danielle Hunter and Tashawn Bower.
Weatherly said he and Bower push each other in practice daily, whether they’re taking reps with the defense or with scout team.
“He’s going to be playing just as much as D and I,” Weatherly said. “We’re going to have a good three-man rotation going, so you’ll see all of us out there doing our jobs.”
While it’s never a positive thing to have a teammate sidelined, Bower is appreciative of the chance for more action and plans to make the most of it.
“It just gives me another opportunity to get back in there and show what I can do and really just help this team out,” Bower said. “It’s not just about one guy being out – it’s about this whole team trying to get a win.”
The former LSU standout signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and he said things have “slowed down” for him with one NFL season under his belt.
“I think that you’re able to figure out what’s actually going on without having to think about it too much, and you’re just able to go play the game that you’ve played for so long,” Bower said. “It becomes more fun.”
Bower and Weatherly are ready for the extra responsibility while Griffen is out of the lineup.
On Sunday, Carla Weatherly will be at U.S. Bank Stadium to watch her son’s first pro start, and Stephen is predicting what her reaction will be.
“She’s going to cry. Hands down,” Weatherly said a smile. “She’s a strong woman, but she’s going to cry the first time her baby boy is introduced in front of thousands of people for an NFL game.”
Robinson catching on quickly with WR teammates
The Vikings on Monday added Aldrick Robinson to their wide receivers room, and he’s already earned the respect of his new teammates.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen each were asked about Robinson and spoke highly of him to the Twin Cities media.
“Aldrick is super-fast,” Diggs said of the former track star. “And he’s a pretty good guy, too. He’s going to fit right in. He wants to work and works hard. I look forward to him grinding it out and keeping some good things going.”
Diggs was quick to talk about Robinson’s speed, but is he faster than No. 14? Not so fast.
“Come on, now,” Diggs quipped.
Thielen echoed Diggs’ sentiments and said Robinson made a good first impression.
“From the first couple of minutes he was here, he introduced himself, just a really good guy,” Thielen said. “And then you see him out at practice, making some plays and running some routes, you can see the guy has a lot of talent, and you’re kind of wondering why [the 49ers] let him go – because he can run, he’s fast, he’s quick, he’s explosive and he’s got good hands. So we’re excited to have him here.”
Boone: ‘If my number’s called, I’ll be ready’
Mike Boone was inactive for Minnesota’s first two regular-season games and is listed as “questionable” this week while working his way back from a groin injury.
With Dalvin Cook ruled out, however, Boone could find himself with an opportunity.
The rookie signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent and impressed during OTAs and the preseason, rushing for 195 yards on 49 carries in preseason contests, including a 91-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Jaguars.
“It’s exciting just to know there’s a possibility you’ll get to play. I just tried to take advantage of this week, do everything I had to do, and if my number’s called, I’ll be ready to execute,” Boone said. “That’s what you work for, to have the opportunity to go out on Sunday and play.”
Boone said he’s learned a lot from Cook and Latavius Murray and that he feels more comfortable in the offense. He’s also grateful for the chance to learn from the sidelines over the past two weeks.
“Once you prepare as much as you’re supposed to, it kind of slows down a little bit for you,” Boone explained. “And being on the sidelines, you see exactly what we saw in the film room, ‘OK, this is how it looks out here.’ It slows down a bit, you know? On the sideline you can watch, so when it’s time for you to be out there, you’re prepared.”
Boone also has watched Cook utilized in the passing game and is excited about the prospect of being called on similarly.
“If my number’s called, just to see the running backs getting the ball [through the air] is exciting,” Boone said. “If it’s my turn to be up, I’ll be prepared and ready.”
Added Boone: “I got a little wide receiver background; I didn’t play running back until I got to college, so I’m kind of comfortable moving around out in the slot.”
Barr, Kendricks signing autographs Saturday
Fans have a chance to meet the Vikings top two linebackers this weekend.
Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, who were teammates at UCLA before reuniting in the Vikings locker room in 2015, are scheduled to sign autographs at FanHQ in Eden Prairie. Advance ticket purchases are recommended. See below for more information: