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Updated: August 14th, 2012 12:46pm
Knee OK, Everson Griffen says he asked Vikings to move him back to end

Knee OK, Everson Griffen says he asked Vikings to move him back to end

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Everson Griffen says his sore knee isn't a concern, nor is his move back to defensive end.

"It was mostly my decision," Griffen said on Tuesday, one day after Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier announced the experiment at linebacker was over.

"I just feel like I'm a better defensive end. I love defensive end and I love linebacker, too, but I think I can best help this team at defensive end. At this time, I'm just trying to perfect my craft at one position. I'm not trying to be bouncing around.

"I just want to play one specific position and be great at that position instead of trying to do it all. I'm just trying to keep my mindset shorter and stay focused on what I've got to get done, and that's defensive end."

Griffen dropped out of Monday's practice after tweaking his left knee, which was wrapped as he went through the paces in Tuesday's morning walkthrough.

"Nothing major," Griffen said. "All my ligaments is intact. Just a little tweak. We'll see how it feels (Tuesday). If it doesn't (feel better), there's no need to rush back. I just want to get better and improve. It's a long season."

Frazier confirmed Griffen is dealing with "just a soreness in his knee. We think he'll be fine in maybe a day or two. We'll determine maybe (Wednesday) if we're going to let him play in the ballgame or not."

Asked if it really was Griffen's decision to move back to end, Frazier said, "If that's what Everson said, it's a good thing. It's good for our team and he's going to do well."

Little more than a month ago, Griffen expressed excitement about the move to weakside linebacker, where the Vikings were looking for depth behind starter Erin Henderson.

But veteran Marvin Mitchell has emerged as a viable backup plan and core special teamer in camp, and Griffen looked out of place while playing with the third string in Friday's exhibition opener at San Francisco.

"I looked at the film and just seeing what I could do -- I'm just more of a defensive end," Griffen said. "If I did play linebacker, it'd be like a 3-4 outside 'backer. But besides that, being back there behind the line, that's not my forte."

Coaches are optimistic spending two weeks at linebacker will help Griffen -- a fourth-round draft pick (100th overall) out of Southern California in 2010 who had four sacks and 14 quarterback pressures while playing 25.3% of the snaps lasts season -- as they continue to experiment with the 3-3 nickel package they debuted on a limited basis.

Griffen plays the "Joker" linebacker in that alignment, roving around before the snap and leaving opponents to guess whether he'll end up rushing or dropping from a two- or three-point stance.

"I could come up. I could come down. We could do a lot of stuff," Griffen said. "I don't want to give out all our secrets for this year, but it's looking good and the only thing we've got to do is keep on pushing, keep on improving each day and we've got upside for the Minnesota Vikings."

As he always does, Griffen stressed his only goal is to get on the field -- which isn't always easy at end, with starters Jared Allen and Brian Robison taking the bulk of snaps. Griffen also is a factor on special teams and has gotten turns as an inside nickel rusher, but he knows his best talent remains his outside speed rush.

"My forte is causing havoc with the quarterback and just coming off the ball and making plays before the plays even start," Griffen said. "I love linebacker. I love doing it. I'll always have it in my repertoire, but defensive end -- that's where it's at for me."

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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