Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
The Vikings signed three draft picks -- linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins -- today.
Hodges was a fourth-round selection (120th overall), while Mauti (213th) and Dawkins (229th) were seventh rounders. Hodges and Mauti are from Penn State, while Dawkins played at Florida State.
The signings were announced by the team. Hodges posted his signing on Twitter. He called it the happiest moment of his life.
A video review of the Vikings picks, if you have a little time to watch, is here. Sid also broke down the Penn State linebackers here. (Just wanted to use "Sid broke down" in the context of Sid breaking down film. Not sure that line worked.)
Other Vikings notes:
Michael Sneed, who apparently is quite comfortable referring to herself in the third person, wrote: Sneed hears that former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher, whose stellar, longtime career with the Bears began with a growl and ended with a whimper, is getting close to finding a new pigskin playground. Sneed is told that Urlacher, whose decision to leave the Bears followed their offer of a $1.6 million renewal contract, has been talking to the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos. “It’s getting close to happening, but Brian is leaning toward heading to Minnesota and is talking a one to two year contract,” said a source close to Urlacher.
As they used to say on Hee Haw, we don't like to repeat rumors ... so you better listen closely the first time.
The Vikings made the biggest splash on the first night of the NFL Draft, landing defensive help with their own picks and then making a shocking trade to pick up a wide receiver.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd of Florida was taken at No. 23, cornerback Xavier Rhodes of Florida State was taken at No. 25, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee was landed at No. 29.
Still, the circus isn't coming to town. The Vikings, in desperate need of a middle linebacker and completely in love with Notre Dame, opted not to take Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o, who you might have heard, was entangled in a bit of an embarrassing internet girlfriend hoax.
The Vikings had to trade both their Friday picks, the second and third rounders, in the Patterson deal. They also sent a fourth and seventh to New England for the talented, but troubled, wideout.
Floyd, who is 6-2 1/2, 305 pounds, can play nose tackle this year and move to under tackle next year, when Kevin Williams is expected to be done as a Viking. Williams turns 33 this August and will make a guaranteed $4.9 million in the final year of his restructured contract.
Floyd is the first defensive linemen taken by the Vikings in the first round since Williams was taken ninth overall in 2003. Floyd also is the first defensive tackle taken above the fourth round since Williams was taken 10 years ago.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman didn't wait long to replace Antoine Winfield, taking Rhodes two picks later. A big corner who some thought would go earlier seems like a decent pick that should start or at least be among the top three corners.
Spielman was holding a news conference to discuss the team's first two first-rounders when he sprinted out of the room and the trade with New England was announced a short time later.
Patterson addresses another big need after the team traded star Percy Harvin to Seattle in the offseason. He will give quarterback Christian Ponder the big, outside receiver he's been missing
Last week, Antoine Winfield wore only a wrap and a protective pad on his fractured right hand. This week, he’ll go with a sturdier soft cast. And that more than anything else is giving Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier optimism that Winfield will be able to play more Saturday night in Green Bay than he did in last weekend’s home win over the Packers.
“I feel better,” Frazier said following Thursday’s practice, the Vikings’ last of the week. “Just to see him move around with that cast, he was actually over there hitting the dummies and doing some things to jar it just to see how it would feel. And he said it felt great. So that was encouraging, very encouraging.”
Winfield played only 18 of 64 defensive snaps last weekend. And the Vikings defense was chewed up after his exit in the second quarter. Even if Winfield can start Saturday night, Frazier has dabbled with contingency plans, one of which would include moving A.J. Jefferson inside as a slot corner and using rookie Josh Robinson outside. Marcus Sherels, who replaced Winfield on Sunday, is also an option in the slot, though it seems clear the Vikings are looking for ways to minimize Sherels’ role on defense.
Winfield will likely be listed as questionable when the Vikings issue their official injury report on Friday. It seems likely that he will start. Keeping that hand protected will be key.
Winfield also noted after Thursday's practice that he would definitely be seeking medicinal help to numb his right hand as much as possible.
In other injury news …
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