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.
Player: Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald
Senior Bowl weigh-in: 6’0, 288 pounds; hands – 9 7/8; arm – 31 ¾; wing – 77 3/8
Senior stats (13 games): 59 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles (ACC Defensive Player of the Year
Donald has been knocked as undersized at his position, but he had arguably with the best performance after the first day of practice on Monday.
The Pittsburgh native shined the most during one-on-one drills against Baylor guard Cyril Richardson during the North practice where Donald dominated one of the best guards in the 2014 NFL Draft multiple times. He mixed it up showing his quickness and explosion off the line of scrimmage but also strength at times.
“I can switch it up a whole lot, but I like to stay true with the bull rush to show the power,” Donald said.
Donald said he played defensive end, nose tackle and three-technique tackle (his preferred position) at Pitt.
“I feel like I’m a rounded football player,” Donald said. “I can play the run, and I can play the pass.”
The Vikings’ 2014 opponents are now set, and the team’s schedule will include a home game against New England and a road game at New Orleans.
The Vikings will play each team in its division, the NFC North, twice. They also face each team in the AFC East and the NFC South, and have games against the last-place teams in the NFC East (Washington) and the NFC West (St. Louis).
The games have been divided into road and home games.
Home: New England, N.Y. Jets, Atlanta, Carolina, Washington, Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago.
Road: Buffalo, Miami, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago.
Remember, home for the Vikings next season is TCF Bank Stadium.
The dates and times of the games will be announced in mid-April.
The Vikings might’ve found their quarterback this season. It only took 15 weeks, but Matt Cassel led a depleted squad in a 48-30 win over the Eagles at the Metrodome. They now move to 4-9-1 this year, while the Eagles fall to 8-6 with two games left.
Here’s five takeaways from Sunday’s game:
Washington has a 24-14 halftime lead over the Vikings at the Metrodome, scoring TDs on drives of 77, 78 and 80 yards.
The good: Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson caught his first NFL TD pass, a 2-yarder from Christian Ponder.
The bad: The Vikings were unable to slow down Robert Griffin III (three touchdown passes) or RB Alfred Morris (88 rushing yards).
The ugly: The Vikings are so banged-up that they weren’t able to find 46 healthy players to dress. They were one short.
Griffin is 16-for-21 for 179 yards and has a 140.7 passer rating. Ponder is 10 of 13 for 85 yards, but had an interception on the opening drive, leading to a Washington field goal.
Adrian Peterson has 44 rushing yards on seven carries, including an 18-yard TD run.
Quick postgame keys to the Vikings’ 34-27 victory over the Steelers at Wembley Stadium.
The Cassel effect. Backup Matt Cassel got the start at quarterback because of Christian Ponder’s rib injury and was efficient and turnover free (although he got lucky on a fumble). Greg Jennings was engaged for the first time this season, and scored two touchdowns off Cassel passes. And Adrian Peterson got some more room, and ran for 140 yards.
Scary defense. The Vikings defense did enough to win, but did anyone feel comfortable late as the Steelers seemed on the verge of a comeback? Only a big play by Everson Griffen, with a sack on the final stand, saved the day.
Just in time victory. Only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, so this was a must-win for the Vikings.
It's worth noting that one of the first things Coach Leslie Frazier said after the game is Ponder is his starting quarterback. So ... let the QB controversy begin.
Here are the video highlights and final stats.
The Vikings have a bye this week before playing Carolina at home on Oct. 13.
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