The Vikings are deep at defensive end, and thin at linebacker.
So it made sense to experiment with Everson Griffen, to give him a few looks in minicamp to see if he could play away from the line of scrimmage.
It apparently worked, as Griffen said he’s been told linebacker would be his primary position when training camp opens July 27.
“That’s what I’m looking at,” Griffen told Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. “I’m looking [to] get on the field and show them what I can do and show them I can be an impact right away at linebacker.”
Griffen said he was “dropping pounds” and was down to 263 to get ready for the change. He’s been working out alongside Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald at the University of Minnesota.
“Just trying to come back in the best shape possible,” Griffen said. “Fast, quick, the whole nine.”
Vikings starters Jared Allen and Brian Robison combined for nearly 90 percent of the snaps at defensive end, but Griffen showed enough in limited work (4.0 sacks) that the Vikings wanted to expand his role.
He’s been listed at 273 pounds in the past, and if he shows up at their suggested 265, he’s still big for a 4-3 outside linebacker. But he expects to continue to get snaps as an end and as the “Joker,” on passing downs as well.
“I expect to be doing that, too,” Griffen said. “When camp starts, whatever they’ve got for me, I’m just going to execute. I’m just going to go out there and — no buts this time, this and this. Execute my assignment and make plays and show them that I’m ready to play, that I’m mature enough, that I’m ready and I’m trying to take it to that next step.
“I want to be one of them guys that’s going to be a big impact on us winning games and going to the playoffs and even try to win a Super Bowl. It’s early right now, but I’m just ready to go, man. Ready to just get out there and show Minnesota what I can do. Show the owners, show just everybody how I can contribute to the team.”
Maturity has always been a bit of a question with Griffen, and much of the reason they were able to get him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. But if he’s serious about getting himself in shape to make a significant switch, the Vikings might have a serious pass-rush in 2012.