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Updated: August 13th, 2012 5:59pm
Everson Griffen moved back to end by Vikings, has knee issue

Everson Griffen moved back to end by Vikings, has knee issue

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Everson Griffen is a defensive end again.

Coach Leslie Frazier confirmed the decision after the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Monday afternoon, saying it had as much to do with improved depth at the weakside linebacker position as anything Griffen did or didn't do on the field.

"We saw enough of him at linebacker where we feel like this is going to be better for him," Frazier said. "We talked to him Sunday night when we got back, and he agrees that it's better for him to focus on that position, and Erin (Henderson) and Marvin Mitchell are really battling for that spot. They're doing a good job competing."

Griffen, 24, mostly took reps at end on Monday before dropping out with what was Frazier said was "a knee that was bothering him" and will be checked out in the evening.

He also continues to work from a two-point stance in the 3-3 nickel package the Vikings used occasionally last season. But the experiment of working him at linebacker full-time ended with his appearance with the third string in Friday's exhibition opener at San Francisco.

Frazier said he's hopeful the experience will help Griffen -- who dropped weight to make the change after coaches approached him about it following June's minicamp -- when he is asked to play in space in certain packages.

"No question, because one of the things he had a chance to do was work more off the ball," Frazier said. "Before, he was always practicing with his hand on the ground, so he'd sporadically end up in situations where he was off the ball, but it was just because of the call. Now, he has a better feel, so he should be more improved when we get into live situations."

A fourth-round draft pick (100th overall) out of Southern California in 2010, Griffen had four sacks and 14 total quarterback pressures last season while playing only 25.3% of the snaps. He could be in line for expanded duty if the Vikings follow through on their plan to give starters Jared Allen and Brian Robison more rest and also is a core special teamer.

The Vikings signed Mitchell, 27, to a minimum salary benefit deal in April that included a $25,000 signing bonus. He mostly has been a special teamer in five NFL seasons with New Orleans (2007 to '10) and Miami (2011) but apparently has shown enough in camp for coaches to feel comfortable with him as Henderson's backup.

Asked if Mitchell is making a move for an even greater role, Frazier said, "I don't know if he's pushing (Henderson) for the starting job, but he's giving us some depth that we didn't have prior to signing him, as you know. But we'll see. We'll see how (Mitchell) performs in these preseason games. Erin still has to perform well. You don't want to say things are locked up where we are right now. We need competition."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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