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Veteran Michael Griffin Immersed in Learning 'Viking Way'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Perhaps the most prolific note taker at Winter Park hasn't been a wide-eyed rookie, but a player with nine previous NFL seasons to his credit: safety Michael Griffin, who is in just his second month with the Vikings.

Griffin, a first-round pick by Tennessee in 2007, has been reunited with defensive backs coach Jerry Gray and assistant DBs coach Jonathan Gannon. He played for both previously with the Titans, but is adjusting to considerable changes in coverages that Gray has implemented as Tennessee's defensive coordinator (2011-13).

"Everything is played differently," Griffin said Wednesday after the Vikings second voluntary organized team activity practice. "There's different terminology when it comes to running different defenses and different ways of playing different techniques. I'm trying to get out of the old habits I have and get into the new habits, the communication, the terminology."

Griffin said teammates have kidded him about the amount of note taking he's done, but the thing is, it's not just while the Vikings classes are in session.

"I continue to write the notes each and every day, and I repeat writing it. The more I write it, the more I remember. I try to read it each and every night before I go to bed so I can remember the different terminology," Griffin said. "Of course I've been making [mental errors] here and there. I think it's part of it being the second day of running the defense live versus the offense. I'm getting there, but it goes back to the tremendous guys around me that are willing to help and try to get me up to par with him."

Griffin said he's often sat near returning Vikings defenders Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Chad Greenway to learn from them in meetings during the voluntary offseason workout program. It's a humble approach for a two-time Pro Bowl participant with 25 career interceptions and 912 total tackles.

"I see the way they do it, the Viking way, so that's one thing I know I have to adjust to," Griffin said. "The Viking way has been working. It's a team that went to the playoffs last year and should have won that game versus Seattle."

Griffin, who worked primarily with second-year pro Anthony Harris on the second-team defense, said he's been impressed by what he's seen from the Vikings starting front seven, likening it to the group on the 2008 Titans that finished the season 13-3.

"As a safety, you didn't have to do too much work," Griffin recalled. "The linebackers and d-line were going to get the job done."

Interestingly, Jevon Kearse, the uncle of Vikings rookie safety Jayron Kearse, was one of the players in that front seven who helped Griffin nab a career-best seven interceptions that season. It was the last time Griffin appeared in a playoff game, a loss to the Ravens.

Kearse and Antone Exum, Jr. worked with the third group of safeties Wednesday. Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo took first-team reps. Harris made an impressive interception along the sideline after quickly closing ground.

Although they are all competing, Griffin has been sharing with younger players what he's learned over the course of nine pro seasons.

Griffin's tenure in Tennessee included four different head coaches and five defensive coordinators. He said he's enjoyed learning from Mike Zimmer and the Vikings head coach's egalitarian leadership style.

"He doesn't treat anybody different than the next man. That's one thing I can say, and it goes back to respect," Griffin said. "You respect the man that doesn't have any favoritism. He treats everybody the same. He's willing to coach everybody the same way so we're all on one accord, and that's one thing I said in coming here.

"I realized everything is on one accord. It's one way," Griffin added. "It's not that this guy can do this because he's good at doing this but you guys have to do it this way. It's everybody's going to do this one way, so with that being said, everybody works well together. It's not a one-man show. It's a team effort."

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