Updated: June 21st, 2012 5:04pm
Notebook: DE Everson Griffen continues to get look at linebacker

Notebook: DE Everson Griffen continues to get look at linebacker

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - The Minnesota Vikings will continue to look for ways to get Everson Griffen on the field this season.

Last year, coach Leslie Frazier used the backup defensive end at linebacker in certain third-down situations, and Thursday the Vikings had Griffen back at linebacker on the final day of their three-day mandatory minicamp at Winter Park.

"I'm comfortable," said Griffen, a fourth-round pick out of Southern Cal in 2010. "With my athletic ability, I feel like I can come and pretty much do anything. That's not me being cocky. I just feel like I can just come in and adapt to the situation."

The Vikings have a Pro Bowl starting at right end in Jared Allen and are happy with Brian Robison's play at left end. Griffen, however, is an excellent athlete and a player they want to utilize.

"That's one of the things we're talking about as a staff," Frazier said, "being able to get him a few more reps at linebacker when we get to (training camp in) Mankato. Last season, we used him in that situation where he was a linebacker on some of our third-down defenses.

"We'd like to be able to escalate that a little bit and maybe even earlier downs. Get him on the field. We want to be able to get him more than 10 or 15 snaps a game and this is a way to possibly do that. We'll explore it and see how he comes along in Mankato."

Griffen said he "loved" playing linebacker last season and would welcome the opportunity to get more time at that position.

"It really can help me in the long run," he said. "At the same time, I just want to solidify my spot at linebacker/D-end and do something like that so I can get the job done."

Griffen also got some reps during offseason practices playing nose tackle in the nickel defense. That's a spot where Robison used to line up when he was a backup.

"I pretty much do it all," Griffen said. "I pretty much do nickel inside, three-technique, defensive end, linebaker, joker - they have me do a wide range of things."

Griffen had off-the-field issues in January 2011 in Los Angeles as he was arrested twice in a span of three days, for public intoxication and felony battery of a police officer. It's unclear if he was ever charged in either case.

Griffen sounds as if he has grown up in the past year.

"I'm just trying to show the coaches that I'm maturing and ready to take the next step," he said. "Whatever that is and whatever they want me to do, I'm willing to do and that's part of being a professional athlete. You've just got to be a professional and adapt to the situation and that's what I'm trying to do."

Brinkley to rehab injury

Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley did not take part in the Vikings' minicamp either because of a groin injury or because his surgically repaired hip is still an issue.

Frazier gave the former as a reason for Brinkley's absence and Brinkley said it was the latter.

Brinkley, who is expected to replace E.J. Henderson as the starter in the middle, and "a couple of other guys" are going to continue to receive treatment at Winter Park for their issues, according to Frazier.

Eric Sugarman, the Vikings' head athletic trainer, has managed to set up treatment in the hometowns of some of the hobbled players so there won't be any who have to remain at the team facility until training camp opens in late July.

Wait and see

Safety Harrison Smith, the second of the Vikings' two first-round picks in April, and cornerback Josh Robinson, a third-round pick, both received extensive work this week with the first-team defense.

But, at least in the case of Robinson, Frazier cautioned against reading too much into it.

"He has a lot to learn and I think once we get to Mankato we'll know a little more about Josh," Frazier said. "I wouldn't read too much into the rotation right now. But once we get to Mankato, and as we get closer to that first preseason game, and in particular that third preseason game, now if he's still working with the ones, then you can kind of say, 'OK, we're starting to believe that he has a chance to do that.' But it's too early right now and there's so much that he has to learn and see."

Part of the issue is that contact is not allowed in minicamp. That means the physical abilities of defensive backs and wide receivers can't be tested until training camp opens.

"It's a big deal, especially for the wide receivers and the defensive backs," Frazier said. "That's a key component of what they can do."

Preparation won't change

Jerome Simpson has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. But the wide receiver said that won't impact his preparation during training camp and the preseason games.

"I'm going to give it my all no matter what. It doesn't matter," said Simpson, who signed a one-year, $2 million free-agent deal with the Vikings in April after four years with the Cincinnati Bengals. "I'm just going to go prepare, just like I always do and just try to make plays.

"It's not like I'm going to hold anything back just because I'm going to miss three games. I'm going to go out there and give my all and show this team that I deserve to be here."

Asked about the chemistry he has developed with quarterback Christian Ponder during the Vikings' offseason program, Simpson said: "We're getting there. It's just all in timing and just being on the same page and just making plays. He's a great guy to just communicate with, easy going, I like being around him."

Late hits

• Frazier did not dismiss the possibility that the Vikings might still look to the free-agent market for help. "There's a chance of that," he said. "We're going to actually meet this afternoon and talk through some of that. ... We're going to see what's out there and talk about our current roster. We're going to spend the rest of this summer and training camp as well trying to make sure we identify the right guys that are available and try to come out with the best 53 we can."

• The website Pro Football Talk reports that former Vikings safety Husain Abdullah and his brother, Hamza, who like Husain is an NFL free agent, will take a year off from playing so they can make a pilgrimage to Mecca, as part of their Islamic faith.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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