Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings 2014 regular season schedule unveiled

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 23, 2014 - 7:16 PM

The NFL unveiled the 2014 regular season schedule Wednesday night. The Vikings kick off the season in St. Louis on Sept. 7 and play their first game at TCF Bank Stadium, their temporary home, against the New England Patriots the following week. The Vikings play one primetime game and will wrap up the season at home against the Chicago Bears. Here is the schedule:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7 @ St. Louis Rams (noon)

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14 vs. New England Patriots (noon)

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21 @ New Orleans Saints (noon)

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28 vs. Atlanta Falcons (3:25 p.m.)

Week 5: Thursday, Oct. 2 @ Green Bay Packers (7:25 p.m.)

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12 vs. Detroit Lions (noon)

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19 @ Buffalo Bills (noon)

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26 @Tampa Bay Buccaneers (noon)

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2 vs. Washington Redskins (noon)

Week 10: BYE WEEK

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16 @ Chicago Bears (noon)

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23 vs. Green Bay Packers (noon)

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30 vs. Carolina Panthers (noon)

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7 vs. New York Jets (noon)

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14 @ Detroit Lions (noon)

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21 @ Miami Dolphins (noon)

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28 vs. Chicago Bears (noon)

So does anyone care to make some premature predictions on the team’s 2014 record?

Peterson, few others to receive 2013 team awards

Posted by: Matt Vensel under Vikings, Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, John Sullivan Updated: April 23, 2014 - 10:29 AM

Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Cordarrelle Patterson, John Sullivan and a Vikings rookie to be announced -- maybe Patterson again? -- will pick up some shiny hardware next weekend.

The Vikings will hand out their 2013 awards at the “Minnesota Honors Football” awards event May 4 at the Hilton Minneapolis. The Vikings are the presenting sponsor for the second straight year.

The event is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at www.nffmn.org.

Peterson, who rushed for 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns, was named their Offensive Player of the Year. Greenway, who led the team in tackles, was their Defensive Player of the Year. Patterson won the Special Teams Player of the Year award after averaging 32.4 yards per kickoff return and scoring two touchdowns. John Sullivan was the Community Man of the Year.

The team’s Rookie of the Year for 2013 has not been named. So who should it be?

Fifth-year options and draft-night dealing

Posted by: Matt Vensel under Quarterbacks, Vikings, Percy Harvin Updated: April 23, 2014 - 10:02 AM

We have spilled a fair amount of digital ink these past few days on the subject of fifth-year options. And if you’re still unsure about how they work, you should probably familiarize yourself.

That’s because no one will be making more of these decisions in the next few years than Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who has drafted five players in the first round the past two years.

In 2012, Spielman selected left tackle Matt Kalil with the fourth overall pick then traded back into the back end of the first to nab safety Harrison Smith. Last year, he drafted defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (with the first-rounder acquired in the Percy Harvin deal) then jumped back into the first to select wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, too.

In the case of Smith, assistant general manager George Paton explained last year that they simply wanted Smith and had the draft assets to strike the deal with the Baltimore Ravens to make it happen. But an added bonus was that the Vikings will get Smith for five years instead of four.

Which begs the question: Will NFL teams, especially the ones eyeing up quarterbacks early in the second round, attempt to move into the first round to gain that extra year of contractual control?

“It could be a consideration because look at San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick,” former NFL agent Joel Corry told me this week. “Assuming everything checks out with this Miami incident, he is going to be at a minimum of $18 million per year on his next deal. If they had traded up into the bottom of the first round [in 2011], they’d have him locked up for another year.”

Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports also had the same thought, and he spoke with an NFL G.M. about it.

"Things have changed with all the good players from that 2011 first round and it's going to cost more to get a team to move out now,” the G.M. told Kirwan. “Back in the old days teams liked to move out of the bottom of the first to avoid the contract expense but now it's reversed."

Just something to think about as the first round winds to a close two weeks from tomorrow.

Vikings 2014 schedule to be unveiled Wednesday

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: April 22, 2014 - 4:26 PM

The announcement to the announcement we’ve all been waiting for finally happened on Tuesday.

The NFL regular season schedule will be released on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN and NFL Network.

It was expected the schedule would be released sometime this week. The announcement of course is worthy of primetime television because, hey, it’s the NFL.

As a refresher, here’s the preseason schedule and regular season teams the Vikings will play:

Preseason

Week 1: vs. Oakland Raiders (Aug. 8 at 7 p.m.)

Week 2: vs. Arizona Cardinals (Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.)

Week 3: at Kansas City Chiefs (Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.)

Week 4: at Tennessee Titans (Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.)

Regular season

HOME

NFC North (Bears, Lions, Packers)

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Washington Redskins

AWAY

NFC North (Bears, Lions, Packers)

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

St. Louis Rams

Schedule could dictate Florida meltdowns -- or not

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: April 22, 2014 - 11:53 AM

Your author has never been known to run around flapping his arms in giddy anticipation of the NFL releasing its schedule. Your author has often wondered, "Hmm, these people already know who and where their teams are playing. And chances are they're not sports writers praying for a MSP-to-MIA flight in DEC. So what gives? Other than the inherent irrational behavior defined in the term fan, why are these people so impatient over and excited about WHEN these games will be played?"

The NFL apparently will make its grand announcement at some point this week. So time is running out for your author to find a reason for his heart to skip a beat while anticipating the schedule release.

Desperate for an angle, he thought of a personal worst-case scenario: Vikings at Miami in September. Talk about, "Noooooooo!"

Plus, if you're a Vikings fan, you don't want the Purple heading to South Beach to bake in the September heat, do you? 

Well, upon further review, we discovered the Dolphins' once-dominant home-field advantage in that September heat melted away eight years ago.

The media in South Florida claim it started to fade when then-coach Nick Saban had a climate-controlld practice bubble built in 2006. Don Shula getting older and retiring might deserve some recognition up high somewhere.

Anyway, BB -- Before the Bubble -- the Dolphins were 44-9 at home in September from 1970 to 2006. AB -- After the Bubble -- they are 2-8 (although they were 1-0 last September). This 10-game flop at home in favorable elements includes:

. An 18-point loss to the Raiders.

. A loss to Brett Favre and the Jets during the 11-5 2008 season.

. A home-opening loss in 2010 after a 2-0 start on the road.

. A loss to the Patriots, who rolled up 622 yards in a prime-time blowout. Cornerback Benny Sapp was so bad in that game, he was released the next day. Weeks later, he ended up back in Minnesota for his second stint with the Vikings.

So maybe it really doesn't matter when the Vikings play the Dolphins. Uh, oh. Now what? Anybody know Tampa Bay's home record in September?

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