Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was happy to take a seat during the third series of Sunday's 24-16 win against San Francisco, when all four defensive line reserves were subbed into the game at once.

"Can I stay out there and still do the plays I came out [for]? 100 percent," Griffen said Wednesday. "But why? Give Stephen [Weatherly] or [Tashawn] Bower, let them go out there and get their opportunity to go prove they can play. We in it for the long haul."

The "long haul" is the goal for the Vikings' expensive and potent starting defensive line of Griffen, Sheldon Richardson, Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter. Keeping them as fresh as possible late into the season is something head coach Mike Zimmer feels the team didn't do well enough last season for the NFL's reigning No. 1 defense.

Week 1 playing time showed the pivot. All eight active defensive linemen got into the game against the 49ers. That happened only twice all of last season.