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.


Posts about Lions

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Spielman, Crocker, depth and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: August 5, 2014 - 7:41 AM

Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- GM Rick Spielman has made this roster young again.

--- Chris Crocker's arrival is not a good sign for the team's safety depth.

--- The Vikings activated S Andrew Sendejo from the PUP list.

--- Here's our best guess at what Mike Zimmer's depth chart would look like.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Brett Favre is "truly honored" to be heading into the Packers Hall of Fame.

--- Marquess Wilson, the Bears’ No. 3 WR, fractured his clavicle in practice.

--- Lions RB Reggie Bush is determined to stay productive.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings are back to their normal routine, with a 10:30 a.m. walkthrough and a padded practice that starts at 3:30 p.m. Coordinators Norv Turner and George Edwards are scheduled to talk.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

As the folks at Football Outsiders pointed out in this recent ESPN piece, at least one team has gone from worst to first in its respective division in each of the past 11 seasons. So what are the odds the Vikings can do it in 2014? Based on their simulations, Football Outsiders says they have a 12.9 percent chance, the third-worst odds among the eight last-place finishers from 2013. Of course, as their projections show, anything is possible. Even the Raiders winning the Super Bowl.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: August 4

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: August 4, 2014 - 7:11 AM

Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- After years of turbulence, the Vikings are all rowing together.

--- Rookie G David Yankey is trying to play catch-up.

--- OLB Chad Greenway taught rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater a lesson.

--- Check out this photo gallery from Saturday night’s practice under the lights.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Former Packers (and Vikings) QB Brett Favre will have his number retired in Green Bay.

--- Former Minnesota S Brock Vereen has climbed the Bears’ depth chart.

--- Lions RB Theo Riddick has impressed in camp, but he has a lot of competition.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

After getting yesterday off, Vikings players will be back on the field at 10:30 a.m. for today’s morning walkthrough. This afternoon, the Vikings practice at 3:30 p.m., and they’ll be in pads.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Last season, with Norv Turner coordinating their offense, the Browns ranked fifth in the NFL in offensive pace of play, according to Football Outsiders. The Browns ran one offensive play every 24.96 seconds of game time. That pace trailed only the Eagles, Bills, Patriots and Broncos. The Vikings, meanwhile, ranked ninth last season in offensive pace at 26.22 seconds per play.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: August 3

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: August 3, 2014 - 7:48 AM

Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- Who is George Edwards and what exactly does he do around here?

--- S Jamarca Sanford is used to having to battle for a starting position.

--- Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater finished last night’s practice strong.

--- GM Rick Spielman is quizzing coach Mike Zimmer on in-game decisions.

--- OLB Anthony Barr is working to become a better pass rusher.

--- C John Sullivan is hoping for improved health and improved play in 2014.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Packers rookie WR Jared Abbrederis tore his ACL in camp.

--- Lions rookie TE Eric Ebron is starting to show improvement.

--- Two Bears rookie defensive tackles are getting rave reviews.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

After last night’s night practice, Zimmer is giving players the day off. They’ll be back tomorrow.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Few, if any, NFL teams used running back screens less often than the Vikings did a season ago. Less than 1.8 percent of Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder’s attempts were running back screens, according to Pro Football Focus. Those percentages should be on the rise with Norv Turner calling the plays. We have already seen Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon get involved in the screen game in camp practices, and both looked dangerous in the open field, particularly Peterson.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: August 2

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: August 2, 2014 - 7:21 AM

Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- The Vikings are pleased with what they have seen from top pick Anthony Barr.

--- The Vikings had a sloppy practice yesterday.

--- Why the heck are the Vikings blaring that bullhorn at practice?

--- The mystery at middle linebacker continues for the Vikings.

--- K Blair Walsh thinks a 33-yard kick is a reasonable distance for the extra point.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- A look at why Lions WR Calvin Johnson is such a nightmare to cover.

--- The Packers haven’t gotten much production from recent first-round picks.

--- The Bears are looking for DE Willie Young to refine his finishing touch.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

After their 10:30 a.m. morning walkthrough, the Vikings will hold their second night practice of Camp Zimmer at 7:30 p.m. It is not a scrimmage, but there should be live tackling in some drills.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Head coach Mike Zimmer has said on several occasions that tackling ability will be a major determining factor in the battle at safety. And understandably so, because the Vikings had no safeties who ranked in the top 40 in the league in Pro Football Focus' tackling efficiency rating in 2013. Harrison Smith was the team’s most reliable tackler, missing one tackle for every 9.1 attempts and eight total tackles overall. Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo fared a little worse.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: July 30

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 30, 2014 - 7:40 AM

Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.

Remember when the Vikings arrived in the Twin Cities a few months ago for the start of the offseason working program and Greg Jennings said Norv Turner’s offense was making his head spin? He gave the juicy sound bite, but he wasn’t the only one feeling overwhelmed by the new offense. After all, the philosophy, the scheme and even the terminology are completely different.

Fast forward to today, the last day in July. The Vikings are now on their fourth time through the installation of Turner’s offense, according to first-string quarterback Matt Cassel, and the offensive players -- and most importantly the quarterbacks -- have gradually gotten it down.

“Each and every day we're working hard to continue learning the nuances of the offense, some checks, and also trying to see it through Coach Turner's eyes,” Cassel said Sunday night.

Cassel and fellow veteran Christian Ponder got an early advantage over first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater, who didn’t join the team until May. Those guys were in the building and in the offense a month earlier. But Bridgewater has proved to be quick learner, putting him in this battle with Cassel.

“It’s a huge difference compared to where things were before,” Bridgewater said. “For me, I'm a step ahead from when I first started learning the playbook.”

Some heads are surely still spinning. But it has looked like these two QBs have theirs on straight.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- My colleague Mark Craig hung out with Norv and watched tape of Teddy.

--- CB Xavier Rhodes is still learning to trust his instincts at the pro level.

--- Bracing for a potential Chris Kluwe lawsuit, the Vikings hired two high-powered attorneys.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Bears QB Jay Cutler is not resting on his success from last season.

--- Lions QB Matthew Stafford feels rejuvenated working with Jim Caldwell.

--- The Packers are cashing in at Lambeau Field.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

After a day off, the Vikings are back on the field in Mankato today. Their morning walkthrough got pushed back to 11:20 a.m., and it is now special teams only. They practice in pads at 3 p.m.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

The Vikings allowed 37 passing touchdowns last season, tied for second-most in NFL history, according to Pro Football Reference. You would think with the explosion of NFL passing attacks that the dubious record would be held by a recent team, but it was actually the 1969 St. Louis Rams who allowed 38 passing touchdowns -- and that was in 14 games. The 1981 Baltimore Colts and 1961 Washington Redskins also allowed 37 in one season. Obviously, the Vikings need to be better in 2014, but the good news is Mike Zimmer's Bengals ranked 11th in 2013 with 22 allowed.

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