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Vikings Ready for Plenty of Chatter from Philip Rivers

EAGAN, Minn. — Everson Griffen was dominant the last time the Vikings played the Chargers.

Back in Week 3 of the 2015 season, the Vikings defensive end had 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and six quarterback hits as Minnesota cruised to a 31-14 win. Griffen also pressured Philip Rivers on a play where the Chargers quarterback was picked off by linebacker Chad Greenway, who returned the pick 91 yards for a score.

Griffen was mic'd up during the game, and cameras caught a glimpse of a humorous exchange with Rivers near the end of the game. The interaction begins after Rivers says something to Griffen.

Griffen: "It's all good. Look at the scoreboard, that's all that matters. We're victorious. That's all I care about."

Rivers [laughs]: "Whatever."

Griffen: "Whatever. This [stuff] matters to me. All right, we coming."

Griffen, who is known as one of the most emotional and vocal players on the Vikings, didn't elaborate about the conversation when asked about it Friday.

"Just playing football, honestly. It was heated, but it was fun," Griffen said. "He's a competitor … a great player."

But make no mistake about it, the 38-year-old Rivers is known as one of the league's loudest trash talkers … even if he has his own style while doing it.

"He just likes playing the game," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "He likes going out there and talking to the defense. He'll talk to them all the time and he'll probably yell at me a couple times during the game as well, so we'll see.

"I don't think he swears, but he's not afraid to voice his opinion about, 'You call that a blitz?' or something like that," Zimmer added.

Anthony Barr on Friday couldn't recall an instance of Rivers talking directly to him back in 2015. But the Vikings linebacker expects plenty of banter Sunday in Los Angeles.

"I've only had the chance to play against him once, so I don't know from experience," Barr said. "But everything you see and hear, he's definitely a fiery guy, and he's not afraid to express his opinions.

"From what I hear, it's all friendly," Barr added. "He doesn't swear and keeps it PG pretty much."

Count Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards as someone who knows the quarterback will be chatty, but also hard to defend once the ball is snapped.

"Oh, yeah. He's always been a competitor," Edwards said. "He's always been tough when we go against him, as far as what they're trying to get accomplished and understanding some of the things that we do.

"You're not going to trick him very much, because he's seen a lot of ball during his days, 38 years old, he's seen a lot of football," Edwards said. "We look forward to it, I think our guys look forward to it, and it should be an interesting contest this weekend."

Rivers is 1-2 in his career against the Vikings. He has thrown for 778 yards with three scores and four interceptions in those three games.

The longtime face of the Chargers franchise has been durable over the years, as Sunday will be his 222nd straight start for the team.

He took over as the starter before the 2006 season and hasn't missed a game, throwing for 58,404 yards with 394 touchdowns and 193 interceptions.

Zimmer said he has plenty of respect for Rivers.

"You know what's surprising, he's 38 years old. He's very, very smart. He's always been very smart. He's always been a great competitor," Zimmer said. "You think that at some point the arm strength will go down a little bit, but he had a couple bombs in that game [against Jacksonville in Week 14].

"He's going to throw the ball into tight spaces. He's going to give the receivers a chance," Zimmer added. "Really in that game, there's a couple guys coming over the middle open and he took the shot down the middle. If he sees one guy running with one guy, he's going to give them the opportunity to go get it, and they made a couple tremendous plays there."

So, too, does Griffen.

"He's a future Hall of Famer in my book," Griffen said.

Rivers has completed 304 of 467 passes (65.1 percent) for 3,748 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 picks. His passer rating is 90.7, and Rivers' 15 interceptions are the third-most in the NFL.

But even with the Chargers sitting at 5-8 and eliminated from playoff contention, the Vikings expect Rivers to be as vocal as ever Sunday afternoon in Southern California.

Barr said that if Rivers targets him this time around, he'll be ready with a response.

"I'll talk back. Definitely talk back. It gets me going," Barr said with a smile. "It gets me going, and it's more fun than anything."

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