NOTEBOOK: Griffen looking forward to playing his former team

To say that defensive end Everson Griffen is excited to square off against his former team in Minnesota Sunday might be a bit of an understatement.

Griffen, who spent his first 10 seasons in the NFL with the Vikings, signed with the Cowboys in free agency this offseason, and was traded to Detroit last week. He was pretty fired up when talking to Detroit media Thursday.

"I got a little frustrated when I read that comment what (Vikings head coach Mike) Zimmer said about, 'Oh, Everson was a good player.' Like, coach Zimmer wasn't just a good coach, he was a great coach to me," Griffen said. "So for him to call me a good player, that kind of hurts my feelings.

"On Sunday, I'm really looking forward to playing the Vikings and showing them that I am a great player."

Griffen was part of some great Vikings defenses, as Lions fans know all too well, and he's obviously motivated to play well Sunday for his new team against his old one.

"I'm ready to go out there and dominate," Griffen said. "I'm ready to create, adapt and go out there and win."

Griffen had 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks in seven games with the Cowboys this season, bringing his career sack total to 77.0.

Defensive end Romeo Okwara leads the Lions with 5.0 sacks and has a forced fumble and a recovered fumble, but as a unit, the Lions have just 10 sacks this season, which are the fifth fewest in the NFL.

"I thought Everson did a great job (Wednesday)," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Griffen's first practice with the team this week. "I thought his communication was really good on the field, and he's got a high motor.

"He practices at a high level, so that was really good. It was good for us to be out there in pads and to be able to see some of that and just get him used to some of the communication out on the field. I thought it was a good first step."

Griffen said he's going to be locked in Sunday, and ready to do his job to help the Lions get a win.

"I'm excited to be here," Griffen said. "It's going to be fun on Sunday. I'm going to come out and be a great player and I'm going to come out and dominate and I'm going to come out and do that, because I'm just a good player, right? Alright. Alright."

PREPARING FOR THE VIKINGS

The numbers suggest that Minnesota's defense isn't as stout as the one we've been used to seeing under Zimmer.

The Vikings rank 29th in points allowed (30.6), 29th in total defense (411.7) and 30th in passing defense (287.3). Those are some unusual numbers to see associated with the Vikings' defense, but they've lost a few big names due to cap casualties or injury – Griffen among them – and are playing a lot of young guys right now.

But still, last week's win over Green Bay, in which they held the Packers to just 22 points, is proof they can still play good defense in Minnesota. 

 "I think the one thing that definitely shows up on tape right away is just how strong they are through the middle of the defense, and I think that's something we talk about all the time," Patricia said. "(Eric) Wilson, he's played a lot of football for them and he's a good player. I feel that the strength at the linebackers, plus the strength of the safety position – Harrison Smith, obviously, and Anthony Harris – those guys are phenomenal.

"I feel that their defense is getting better each week. I think that those guys are out there and they're getting more familiar with each other and the communication looks like it's getting better. Those guys are playing at a high level. The strength through the middle of the defense, I think, is important. They have that."

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday Nov. 4, 2020.

EXTRA POINTS

  • If running back Adrian Peterson rushes for a touchdown against Minnesota on Sunday, it will be the 28th team he has a rushing touchdown against. He would become only the sixth player in NFL history to rush for one against that meany teams.
  • The Lions could look to lean on wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. this week in Minnesota if Pro Bowler Kenny Golladay doesn't play. Since joining Detroit in 2016, Jones has feasted against NFC North opponents. He has scored 15 receiving touchdowns in 22 games against the division, the second most receiving touchdowns a player has had against his own division in that span. It also ranks as the second most a player has had against the same division in that span.

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