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Presser Points: Zimmer 'Expects' Griffen to be Back With Vikings

Head Coach Mike Zimmer hopes to have the longest-tenured Viking continue his stretch in Purple.

Zimmer spoke with media members from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Wednesday and was asked about defensive end Everson Griffen. According to reports that surfaced last week, Griffen opted out of his contract to be eligible for free agency when the new league year starts.

That does not mean, however, that Griffen will be with another team, as Zimmer specified.

"We met with his agent yesterday, I think it was. Everson's a terrific person for us. I think our situation's the right one for him, and we expect him to be back," Zimmer said. "I think he wants to be back, so those kinds of things usually work themselves out."

Griffen has been with the Vikings since they added him as a fourth-round pick in 2010. He started 15 games in 2019 and recorded 46 tackles (coaches' tally), 8.0 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two passes defensed and an interception.

Zimmer expanded his thoughts on Griffen during a session with Twin Cities beat reporters following his time at the podium.

"First of all, I thought Everson played really well, especially early in the year," he said. "As we're going back through the cut-ups and watching some of the pass things, he's still a really good pass rusher.

"Off the field, number one, he's got a great relationship with [Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Andre Patterson]. He loves the guys here in the locker room, and I think he understands that we're going to do the best for him all of the time," Zimmer added.

Here are four other topics Zimmer addressed during his combine press conference:

1. Thoughts on Cook's health, performance

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook impressed in his third NFL season, racking up 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns on 250 carries.

He remained healthy for most of the season but missed two-plus games with injuries late in the regular season.

Zimmer assured, however, that Cook is "doing really good" and wouldn't call him injury-prone. After tearing his ACL as a rookie in 2017, Cook dealt with a hamstring issue in 2018 before suffering a shoulder injury late last season.

"But Dalvin, he's a physical runner. He's been working hard already," Zimmer said. "We've talked to him just recently. I'm excited to see where he can go because he's such an outstanding football player, great kid, great in the locker room, great as a leader on the offense and on the team. He loves to work; he loves to compete."

2. Evaluation of Bradbury

Almost exactly 10 months ago, the Vikings used their first-round draft pick to add center Garrett Bradbury. The N.C. State standout stepped in as a starter on Day 1 and played all 16 games as a rookie.

Zimmer was asked about what he'd like to see from Bradbury in his second pro season.

"I think Garrett had a heck of a year. He played a lot of plays, played a lot of games, made a lot of the right calls," Zimmer said. "I would say just continuing his development. Early in the year he had some holding penalties that he needed to clean up with some of his hands, so partly that. Part of it would be pass protection."

Bradbury was flagged for seven accepted penalties, five of which were holding, in 2019. All seven of the infractions occurred in the third or fourth quarters.

3. Addressing needs in the offseason

When asked what needs the Vikings need to address in the draft, Zimmer reminded that there are multiple ways to bolster the roster.

"We're always trying to find better players at all the positions," Zimmer said. "Every team has certain holes, but it's not necessarily in the draft. We can take care of those things through free agency; we can take care of them with trades or any other combination of things."

He explained that he's "just starting the process" on prospect evaluations and emphasized Minnesota's approach in the draft.

"We're going to try and figure out the best fit for us," Zimmer said. "It's important that the players, whoever we end up drafting, fit our culture and the way we like to do things. Fit great in the locker room and the way we practice and the way we do things."

Specifically concerning the secondary, Zimmer later said, "I'm sure we'll have to address it" and acknowledged tough decisions that will need to made at the defensive back position.

"That's part of the process that we have to go through," he said. "But if there's a great pass rusher there, it doesn't mean we won't take him. Or a great offensive guard or something like that, we might take him."

4. Identifying defensive trends

From a larger-picture perspective of the league, Zimmer spoke about defensive trends and the influx of hybrid-type players such as Chargers safety Derwin James, who is utilized in multiple ways. 

"There's a lot of guys like that," Zimmer said. "The league has basically turned into a single-high defensive league, where everybody's there and they're putting safeties down in the box, or [now] a lot of teams are using safeties as linebackers.

"The way that the game has widened out and gotten more space, you're going to find smaller, faster linebackers or safeties that can take those guys' places or … that really can play in the back end, but they [also] do a lot of damage at the line of scrimmage and blitzing and pressure."

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