Everson Griffen said the Vikings will need to be wary of challenges presented by the Lions offense and quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Left tackle Greg Robinson, replacing injured starter Taylor Decker, is not one of those challenges, according to Griffen.
“Quite honestly, [he looks] kind of lazy,” Griffen said Wednesday. “He’s lazy. He gets beat on the inside. I think the biggest thing is he’s got to compete more, but yeah, he’s pretty lazy. I feel like the rest of their offensive line, they do pretty well, but to me he’s kind of lazy.”
Griffen, one of six Vikings team captains, doubled down when asked afterward.
“It ain’t nothing personal, he looks lazy,” the defensive end said.
That accusation certainly can’t be leveled at Griffen, who is tied for fourth in the NFL and leads the Vikings with four sacks in three games. Griffen has only once previously faced Robinson, the former No. 2 overall pick out of Auburn. In that 2015 game, Griffen didn’t get a sack, but he notched two QB hits and a tackle for a loss in the Vikings’ 21-18 overtime victory against the Rams at TCF Bank Stadium.
To beat the Lions, who handed the Vikings two losses last season, they’ll need Griffen to back up the talk. Detroit doesn’t seem to have fallen off much without Decker, their 2016 first-round left tackle who underwent offseason shoulder surgery. The Lions rank seventh in points per game (28.3) and narrowly lost 30-26 to the NFC champion Falcons last week.
“They’re a fourth-quarter team,” Griffen said. “We have to compete for four quarters.”
Stafford has taken only six sacks, among the fewest in the league through three weeks.
“Stafford, he’s running the ball a little bit more,” Griffen said. “He’s putting the ball down and running a lot more, so we have to rush him the right way. We have to stop the run and make them one-dimensional. We just have to keep playing the way we play.”
Bradford remains out
The Vikings injury report Wednesday listed only two players, including starting quarterback Sam Bradford (left knee). Quarterback Case Keenum practiced with the first-team offense in preparation for his third start for the Vikings.
“We’re doing everything we can to get [Bradford] ready to play Sunday,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’ll just give him one more day of rest.”
Defensive end Stephen Weatherly (illness) was the other Viking held out of Wednesday’s practice. Two Lions starters were held out of Wednesday’s practice: defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (knee) and guard T.J. Lang (fibula).
Under Zimmer, the Vikings are 19-6 (2-0 this season) when holding an opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards. They’re currently third in rushing yards allowed per game (62.7) after “simplifying” things, according to defensive tackle Tom Johnson.
“Last year we had guys trying to do too much. We had too much in the game plan,” Johnson said. “So right now we’re just trying to simplify and let guys play fast.”
A special moment
Zimmer doesn’t typically award a game ball immediately afterward, but Keenum’s play against the Buccaneers convinced Zimmer to go against his grain. Keenum called it one of the best moments in his 15-plus years playing football.
“I’ve had a game ball before, but that was a special moment in the locker room,” Keenum said. “That was a special team moment. One of my, I’d say, top football career moments having the team there with me.”
“Keep it real, Ev!” said running back Latavius Murray after Griffen slapped the “lazy” label on Robinson, the Lions left tackle.