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Everson Griffen has tryout with Vikings, and ex-teammates talk about welcoming a return

18August 2021

While playing for the Vikings from 2010-19, defensive end Everson Griffen was one of the team’s most popular players. So it was no surprise that some of his former teammates said Wednesday they would welcome him back.

Griffen, a free agent who spent last season with Dallas and Detroit, had a tryout with the Vikings on Wednesday morning. There was no announcement by the team during the day about any possible signing.

“He’s one of my good friends, so I always loved playing with Everson,’’ said safety Harrison Smith, Griffen’s teammate from 2012-19. “I’d play with him anytime.”

General manager Rick Spielman and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer were unavailable for comment. Co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer only would confirm shortly after noon Wednesday that Griffen, 33, was at the TCO Performance Center.

“I’m going to leave that to Rick (Spielman) and the decision on that,’’ Adam Zimmer said about a possible signing. “I haven’t really seen him, so he’s up there meeting with those guys now so I’ll let them handle that.”

Vikings fullback C.J. Ham said it’s “not my job” whether Griffen is signed, but he would welcome it.

“I played with Ev for a long time,’’ said Ham, his teammate from 2016-19. “He brings the type of energy that everybody loves. …We’ll see what happens. But it’s awesome that he got another opportunity (to try out).”

Griffen made four Pro Bowls with the Vikings and averaged 9.5 sacks per season as a starter from 2014-19.

“It’s Everson, so we know what he brings to the table,’’ Smith said.

Griffen, who told the Pioneer Press on Tuesday that he was “excited” about his impending tryout, was unavailable Wednesday for comment.

RETOOLED O-LINE

After no starters played on offense in last Saturday’s 33-6 loss to Denver in the preseason opener, the Vikings on Saturday against Indianapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium will unveil a retooled offensive line.

With Riley Reiff having been released last March in a salary-related move and rookie Christian Darrisaw still sidelined by a groin injury, the first-team tackle is Rashod Hill, who was primarily a reserve the past five seasons. The new right guard is Oli Udoh, who played in just seven games at tackle the past two seasons with no starts. Ezra Cleveland has moved from right to left guard. Only center Garrett Bradbury and right tackle Brian O’Neill remain in the same spots as last year.

“He’s played a lot of football with me and he’s done a great job, so I love knowing he’s been in the fire for a long time,’’ quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Hill taking over at left tackle. “I expect him as an experienced veteran to step in and do a great job.’’

With Darrisaw hurt, Blake Brandel, who spent last year as a rookie on the practice squad, has been the second-team left tackle. However, if anything were to happen to Hill, Udoh could slide to that spot.

“He could be a starting right guard or a starting left tackle at any time, and he has to be ready to perform,’’ said offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak.

INJURY REPORT

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr again missed practice Wednesday. Barr, who has not practiced since Aug. 5, and Mike Zimmer have declined to reveal the nature of his injury.

Also not practicing were Darrisaw, tight end Tyler Conklin, running back Kene Nwangwu, defensive end Patrick Jones II, defensive tackle James Lynch and quarterback Nate Stanley. Wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Dede Westbrook were limited.

Guard Dru Samia began the practice before leaving midway through it with an apparent leg injury.

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