LONDON – Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen mentioned four times how he "really, really" wanted to go against Browns 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas on Sunday.
Instead, he'll face Spencer Drango, a second-year backup guard making his first NFL start at left tackle.
"He's a guy who should be playing guard," Griffen said matter-of-factly after Friday's practice at Hazelwood Centre, training ground for the London Irish rugby team.
"He's a little slower, so I'm going to use my gift, which is my get-off and my speed and go out and help my team win."
Griffen, who has nine sacks in the first seven games, is trying to become the first player in franchise history with at least one sack in the first eight games of a season. His chances improved when Thomas' streak of 10,363 snaps ended with a season-ending torn triceps injury last week.
Drango, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, stepped in for Thomas last week and struggled to slow a Titans pass rush that's normally underwhelming.
"I really wanted to go up against Joe Thomas," Griffen said. "He's one of the best, and I like going up against the best because that's where you make a big name for yourself."
Griffen said he's studied Drango's 15 snaps at left tackle "three or four times, five times, six times. Over and over, just to get his little tendencies."
Griffen also was asked to describe his mentality when it comes to facing a rookie quarterback. DeShone Kizer is 0-6, has been benched the past two weeks and has thrown three touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.
"Hunt," Griffen said. "Stop the run. Make them one-dimensional. And hunt."
Keenum to start as expected
The worst-kept secret since quarterback Case Keenum started last week was revealed when coach Mike Zimmer announced that Keenum will start again this week.
Quarterback Sam Bradford, backup offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles and backup defensive lineman Stephen Weatherly were ruled out because of knee injuries.
Listed as questionable were starters Riley Reiff (knee), Stefon Diggs (groin/ankle), Nick Easton (calf), receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring) and nickel back Mackensie Alexander (hip). Reiff, Diggs and Alexander had full participation Friday, while Easton and Floyd were limited.
Wilf on London team
Vikings owner Mark Wilf said during Friday's practice that he believes a London-based NFL team would work.
"I think so," he said. "There are a lot of logistics to it. A lot of things that need to be worked through."
Asked if a London team would be at too big of a competitive disadvantage in free agency, Wilf said, "There's no question there are logistical issues competitively both football-wise and [location]," Wilf said. "But I think they can be overcome."
Wilf said the Vikings support the international games but stopped short of offering to give up a home game to play in one.
Later, Keenum said "anything is possible" when asked if he thinks there will be a London team one day.
"Talking to my wife," he said, "I think it would be fun to live here for a certain period of time."
•Asked if he's planning to get some London cuisine, Griffen said yes before adding, "I love food. Cheeseburgers, waffles, eggs, you know, everything."
•The fields for Friday's practice were NFL caliber, much better than the one the Vikings used for Thursday's walk-through at the Syon House.
•Browns rookie defensive end Myles Garrett, who has four sacks in three NFL games, did not make the trip to London because of a concussion. "Obviously, he's a great player," Keenum said. "But I don't think they're going to play with 10 out there."
•Free safety Harrison Smith on the NFL's decision to suspend strong safety Andrew Sendejo for this game after last week's hit to the head of Ravens receiver Mike Wallace: "I wasn't a fan, but it's not for me to say. I'm always going to be on Dejo's side."
•Zimmer on whether having four quarterbacks will present a problem one day: "No. I think it's a good problem to have. And I do anticipate them all out there at some point in time."