Defensive end Everson Griffen returned to the Vikings this season with plans to be a reserve, but has now joined as a starter.
Co-defensive co-ordinator Andre Patterson said Wednesday that Griffen will begin his second straight game in Carolina on Sunday. In the first three games of the season, Griffen was a reserve in two and missed a stroke ahead of DJ Vonum before making his debut in Sunday’s 19-17 win over Detroit. He answered with two sacks, giving him four in the last three games.
“As long as he’s playing well, he deserves (to start),” Patterson said. “That’s who I am. If you’re playing well you should start. It’s not going to get better than anything against DJDJ. But I mean, being Everson Griffen, Everson Griffen must be better than DJ Vonum. Everson Griffen is a four-time pro bowler, right? DJ is the player of the second year coming along.”
Griffen, who made his four Pro Bowl appearances playing for Minnesota from 2010–19, re-signed in August. Patterson admitted that he is a little surprised at how much better he looks now than he did in Dallas and Detroit last season.
“I might say a little yes, because you judge him by how he played on the other two teams, and to me he was not like the Everson I know and love,” Patterson said.
While the plan is for Griffen to resume, it remains to be seen whether he plays as much as he played against the Lions when he was in for the season-high 49 snaps. Head coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday that Griffen “probably played too much,” but Patterson said on Wednesday that the Vikings decided to be in the nickel rather than base defense at the end of the game.
Zimmer won’t hold his hand on how many left tackles Christian Darrisaw will make against the Panthers.
Against the Lions, Rashod Hill started and played 39 snaps and Darrisaw swung and took 28 snaps. It remains to be seen on Sunday whether Darissau can begin or if the rotation continues.
“I think the biggest thing was his athleticism,” Zimmer said of Darrisaw’s run blocking against Detroit. “He could go to the guy in the back and cut him. He could go to the backside linebacker. That’s just the agility he has.”
Quarterback Kirk Cousins said there was no problem swinging the left tackle.
“The plan to go to the game was to give[Darisaw]some opportunities and there was no reason not to do so,” Cousin said. “You have to plug and play. Huh.”
Is Minnesota’s Alexander Mattison the best running back in the NFL?
“I’ll leave it to the critics, but there will certainly be an argument,” he said. “You can’t ignore some statistics and some facts and the movie.”
With starter Dalvin Cook out on September 26 against Seattle and a right ankle sprain against Detroit, Mattison ran for 112 and 113 yards, respectively.
The only drawback against the Lions was a fumble that Minnesota lost in 20, allowing them to take a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds to go soon. But Greg Joseph won the game with a 54-yard field goal in the final game.
Mattison has said that Cook comforted him after the loss, and he was grateful for it.
“I was just making sure his mental state was okay, and once he saw the field goal, he gave me a big hug,” Cook said.
Cousins recently donated $500,000 to the Vikings Social Justice Committee.
“The way the players have led has been very impressive, and the players are very involved in that,” he said.
Cousins, a member of the committee, called the donation a “no-brainer.”
“It touched my heart,” said committee member Patterson. “Very, very grateful to him for doing this.”