Griffen impressed by level tackle Kalil is at in preseason
SEATTLE — Everson Griffen has known Matt Kalil since 2006. He's been going against him in practices since 2008.
Never has Griffen been more impressed.
"I've seen (Kalil) mature and this is the best I've ever seen him look,'' Griffen said before his Vikings faced Seattle in a preseason game Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.
Griffen has been a Minnesota defensive end since 2010 while Kalil has been the team's starting left tackle since 2012. The two also were teammates at USC from 2008-09.
They first met in 2006 when Kalil was a junior at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif., and Griffen a senior at Agua Fria High in Avondale, Ariz. Since 2008, they've been going against each other in practices, with the exception of the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
"It's been going great,'' said Griffen, entering his third season as the Vikings' starter at right defensive end. "He's making me better and I'm making him better. It's a great battle. Iron sharpens iron is what coach (Mike) Zimmer says.''
Kalil made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012. Griffen said he's looking even better now.
"I'm happy for the dude,'' Griffen said. "He's doing a lot of great things. He's going to hold down the left side for us this year. He's going to do a great job for us. I know he will.''
The swift Griffen last season played in his first Pro Bowl. The battle between the two was a highlight for fans to watch during training camp at Minnesota State Mankato.
"Speed kills,'' Kalil said about going against Griffen in practice. "That's just the hardest thing to stop. You get all these speed rushers around the end, it's great practice for me. Obviously, Everson is a great player and he's only going to make me better.''
The word from Griffen, though, is Kalil has been looking pretty great himself.
Stephen steps in
Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd missed his second straight preseason game with an apparent knee injury, and once again was replaced by Shamar Stephen.
Stephen looked good as a rookie in 2014, but was put on injured reserve last season after just five games with a toe problem. The Vikings are glad to have him healthy.
"He's done really good,'' Zimmer said. "Shamar is a strong, big guy that hangs in there and does a lot of dirty work. He's starting to get better with his pass rush, so that helps. We missed him a year ago.''
10 sit out
The Vikings ruled out nine players before the start of Thursday's game. The same nine didn't practice Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.
In addition to Floyd, starting guard Brandon Fusco and middle linebacker Eric Kendricks were out. Others sidelined were wide receiver Jarius Wright, linebacker Brandon Watts, defensive tackle Scott Crichton and defensive backs Anthony Harris, Tre Roberson and Melvin White.
Of the nine out for injury, only Roberson played in Minnesota's preseason opener, a 17-16 win last Friday at Cincinnati.
For the second straight game, Joe Berger started for Fusco and Audie Cole for Kendricks.
Also sitting out was quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, although the reason for his removal from the starting lineup was not initially made clear.