Vikings Getting Creative With Young D-Linemen Ballard, Griffen

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 29, 2011 – 2:12 pm

One of the themes new Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave operates under is to tailor his system to fit the players on the Vikings roster. And it looks like that theme is one the Vikings defensive coaches are going to subscribe to as well.

On Monday at practice, 2nd-year DE Everson Griffen spent a few plays standing up and playing in the spot usually occupied by an outside LB. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was quite complementary of Griffen’s athletic ability during his post-practice press conference and he made it clear the team has every intention of tapping into Griffen’s potential.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Frazier said, also noting that Griffen weighs 270 pounds and can run a 4.5-4.6 forty-yard dash. “He’s just a tremendous athlete with good football intelligence and has some playmaking ability, so we want to utilize his athletic ability.”

The back and forth Frazier had with reporters after practice was more centered on having Griffen “stand up” on defense, rather than simply moving him to outside LB. Whether the idea actually involves a position change remains to be seen. What is clear, though, is that the Vikings have a few things in mind to just get #97 on the field.

“We have some packages where we want him to stand up sometimes,” Frazier said, “and we thought that this (experimenting during practice) would give him an opportunity to get comfortable doing that [for] when we go to some of those packages during the year.

“We’re going to try to get him in there, depending on how he handles things this week that we’re throwing at him in these couple days that we got. But we’d like to take a look at him and just see how he does. But for sure, as the year goes on, we want to be able to stand him up sometimes in certain situations and let him be like a linebacker.”

Frazier was also clear that using Griffen in this manner is no indictment on the play of Erin Henderson or any of the other outside LBs currently on the roster. Rather, it’s actually based on confidence the Vikings defensive coaching staff has in another young DL on the roster.

“What it speaks to more is, some of the things we have in mind for Christian Ballard,” Frazier explained. “The fact that we think he can play inside, but also slide outside. We’ve seen some things with him that makes us believe he has some position flexibility. We’re going to try him a little bit in this game on Thursday night at (defensive) end and just see what he gives us in that area. If he can come around, it’ll help our football team.”

Who says the 4th preseason game is boring? It sounds like the Vikings defense has a lot of fun in store for the preseason finale.

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Vikings Getting Creative With Young D-Linemen Ballard, Griffen”

  1. By Nick on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    What about a starting D-Line of : Everson Griffen, Ballard, Williams and Allen?

  2. By Mike Wobschall on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t think Robison has done anything to lose his spot. But it’s good to see Griffen and Ballard jumping up in the coaches’ eyes.

  3. By tgohde on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    Good to see young talent and draft picks rising to there game!!! I believe Ballard and Griffen will be studs. I also think Robison is gonna step up and fill in for Edwards just fine. SKOL VIKINGS

  4. By rgnac on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    Like the idea for a blitz package….JA,KWill,Ballard,BR with Grif coming around the left with BR…this could be a real QB killing move at times…as long as the DB’s/LB’s can take the heat of 1 less guy in coverage.

  5. By campfrazier on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    All I can say is WOW, Ballard is a beast. Who says you can’t find talent in the 6th or was it 7th round, I can’t remember off hand but either or, I mean Ballard is performing like an animal, and with some quickness in those feet!

  6. By serkdude on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    robison disappointed me with that missed tackle on witten early in the game but made up for it a couple plays later, so he deserves to keep his spot…..but yes griffen is looking more than solid….exciting group across the vikes front….keep rollin them all thru out a game and other teams o lines will get worn down….then the secondary will start looking that much better

  7. By sammy on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    i hope ballard will be starting DT. He did awesome at Iowa, watch him do his awesomeness in MN

  8. By sammy on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    by the way, ballard was a 4 round pick, when people expected him to be picked in the 2 round

  9. By vikoholic on Aug 29, 2011 | Reply

    Griffen in the 4th round in 2010 and Ballard in the 4th in 2011 were my favorite picks the last two drafts. Big value in both cases if they pan out like I’m thinking they will.

  10. By GrowingVikHorns on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Griffen has significant potential and intensity.

  11. By study in china on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    A great guy ,Griffen

  12. By Stoney on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Yes, get those guys on the field any way you can.

  13. By taylor on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply


  14. By CA Norwegian on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Awesome potential! On clear passing situations,. I hope they put the extra DE in there as a 5-2 even if he is standing as a linebacker before the snap. Standing here or 3pt there, what does it matter as long as the QB is on his back at the whistle.

  15. By vikelifer on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    The D-line and linebackers have to have a huge year cus there is a huge whole behind the front 7 we managed to get by with a weak secondary 2 years ago cus we had an excellent pass rush and we had Sharper making plays.

  16. By Ekolu on Aug 30, 2011 | Reply

    Griffen has the athleticism to play LB and provides the versatility to help make this team better. He provides quality depth at DE and if he can learn the WIL position that gives the Vikings the ability to be able to keep a player based on skill rather than need. Ballard has been playing extremely well, but the Vikings brass had always seen him as a swing man. He was a projected 2nd round talent, but like Griffen fell a couple of rounds because of character concerns and it looks like the Vikings have made another great middle round pick who could contribute right away. This draft could produce 7 roster additions and at least 1 or 2 practice squad additions. Good job Frazier and Spielman.

  17. By likejoeybrowner on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve been using griffen as my left outside linebacker instead of leber with my 4under in madden for the last two years….can I get a job?

  18. By NYViking on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I really like what the Vikings coaching staff is doing here; moving some of these young guys around, seeing what else they can do, stretch out the talent. I think its going to be very exciting to see Ballard and Griffen, and Robison get real busy.

  19. By Melvin on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    It’s obvious that the starting D-line passed all tests against a good dallas football team. B-Rob showed both his strength and quickness by bull rushing Whitten and displaying excellent quickness with inside spin moves with several hits on Romo. With teams always worrying about Jared, I’m sure that Robison will get his fair share of sacks this year. By the end of the year, people will wonder why he did not start sooner. The LB’s also stepped up and played very consistantly.

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