MANKATO — For Everson Griffen, becoming an established and productive player for the Minnesota Vikings was like the quarterback he's trained to chase.
The blocker across from him, impeding his path to the elusive passer, was his own lack of focus and discipline.
Last year, he finally broke through.
"I'm just trying to play football right now and get better, set my foundation like everybody else," Griffen said. "Show the coaches I can be accountable for their coaching, that they can trust me. It starts with trust in this league, and I would love to be that veteran guy they can count on for next season, but we're at this season right now, 2013."
He's in the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2010, but starters Jared Allen and Brian Robison are also playing on expiring deals, like stalwart under tackle Kevin Williams. By far the youngest of those three, Griffen could be in line for a big-money extension by the end of the year if he picks up where he left off last season.
"I've matured. It takes time to mature. People have their problems that they have to overcome, and the setbacks that you have, you become stronger at the end of them when you push through it," Griffen said.
There was a time when coach Leslie Frazier wasn't sure Griffen would last this long in the league, let alone with the Vikings.
"I talk to him all of the time about being one of those guys that I hope one day will be able to stand up in front of a room and talk to the young guys about 'this is where I was, but this is where I am today.' He's come a long ways, and we're very proud of what he's been able to accomplish," Frazier said.