Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
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.
LONDON -- The Vikings injury report has become lengthy. Seven players either were limited or did not participate at all on Wednesday.
As addressed earlier today, quarterback Christian Ponder was limited because of a rib injury. Also limited were Kevin Williams (knee) and running back Matt Asiata (hamstring).
Three defensive backs did not practice -- Chris Cook (groin), Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) and A.J. Jefferson (ankle). Tight end Rhett Ellison also did not participate after missing Sunday's game against Cleveland because of a knee injury.
The Vikings health issues in the secondary are a major concern because they potentially could be without two starters in Cook and Sanford. General manager Rick Spielman gave a rare in-season media session today and said his staff, including assistant GM George Paton, stayed back in the Twin Cities to monitor the waiver wire so they could be in position to handle logistics if they need to make a roster move this week.
"I've been monitoring at 2 a.m. the wires for any potential moves that can be made, the logistics of making those moves, how you get that guy over to England, does he have a passport if we have to bring a player over here," Spielman said. "That's been kind of interesting. I didn't get to sleep until 2:30 this morning and had to get woken up. I called my people over there and it's 3 in the morning over there and they're asking what you're doing.
"We've got until 9 o'clock tonight to make a move but we have to do it on your (Minn) time. It's worked out great so far and we'll see anything from a personnel standpoint, if we have to do anything, that we'll be able to get that accomplished."
The injuries in the secondary create speculation about whether the team has contacted Antoine Winfield to see if he will put off retirement for now. Spielman declined to discuss their potential interest in Winfield.
"I won't get into any facts on who we talked to or what we're doing," he said. "We always look at options when there are injuries. We'll continue to that."
Asked if Winfield has been ruled in or out of consideration, Spielman said, "I can't rule anything. You never know."
The Vikings, who have their final preseason game against Tennessee tonight at 7 at the Metrodome, will have to cut their roster to 53 by 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The eight-man practice squad can be formed from eligible players after those players clear waivers. In general, practice squad-eligible players haven’t been active for more than eight NFL games and can’t be on the practice squad for more than two years. So, yeah, the Vikings can’t stash Joe Webb on that practice squad, folks.
Here is the Vikings’ unofficial depth chart. Feel free to make yourself part of the team’s staff and figure out which 22 players you can whack to get to 53. Keep in mind you will have the practice squad, which means there are 61 guys around, but it’s often hard for teams to sneak rookies through waivers, so be careful about your cuts.
VIKINGS DEPTH CHART
WR: Jerome Simpson, Cordarrelle Patterson*, Joe Webb, Rodney Smith*
LT: Matt Kalil, Kevin Murphy, DeMarcus Love
LG: Charlie Johnson, Jeff Baca*
C: John Sullivan, Joe Berger
RG: Brandon Fusco, Seth Olsen, Travis Bond*
RT: Phil Loadholt, Brandon Keith, Troy Kropog
TE: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, Chase Ford, Colin Anderson*
WR: Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, Stephen Burton, Adam Thielen*
QB: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
FB: Jerome Felton, Zach Line*
HB: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard
LE: Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, D'Aundre Reed
NT: Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Chase Baker, Anthony McCloud*
UT: Kevin Williams, Sharrif Floyd*, Everett Dawkins*, Spencer Nealy*
RE: Jared Allen, Everson Griffen, George Johnson, Collins Ukwu*
SLB: Chad Greenway, Larry Dean
MLB: Erin Henderson, Audie Cole, Michael Mauti*
WLB: Marvin Mitchell, Desmond Bishop, Tyrone McKenzie, Gerald Hodges*
LCB: Josh Robinson, Xavier Rhodes*, Marcus Sherels
RCB: Chris Cook, A.J. Jefferson, Brandon Burton, Bobby Felder
SS: Jamarca Sanford, Mistral Raymond, Andrew Sendejo, Darius Eubanks*
FS: Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton, Brandan Bishop*
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
P: Jeff Locke*
K: Blair Walsh
LS: Cullen Loeffler
KEEP IN MIND: RETURN DEPTH CHART
KR: Cordarrelle Patterson*, Marcus Sherels, Stephen Burton, A.J. Jefferson
PR: Marcus Sherels, Bobby Felder, Jarius Wright, Stephen Burton
Note: DT Christian Ballard (Active/Left Squad) does not count on the current roster; Felton will start the season with a three-game suspension and will not count against the 53-man roster.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier talked to NFL officials about the low hit that injured veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams and said the league agreed that Joe Looney's actions were unnecessary and dangerous.
“I have talked to the league about it; they concur,” Frazier said. “It's not the type of play they want in the game for player safety reasons. There's a big emphasis regarding player safety and that play really endangers our players' safety. It's not something that the league wants. It's not something that any of us want as we are trying to make the game safer for our players.”
Looney, a 49ers backup lineman, hit Williams in the knees away from the play when he wasn't looking. Williams escaped ligament damage, but he suffered a hyperextended knee, a significant bone contusion and a posterior capsular strain.
Looney told reporters in San Francisco that he didn’t intend to injure Williams and was just trying to finish his block. Vikings players weren’t buying it.
“I think the hit was uncalled for,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “Really quite ridiculous. It’s something we specifically talked about in our meetings with the league, with the refs, before the preseason games started. It was just unnecessary. He wasn't going to make the play. He wasn’t going to be a part of the play.
“You can say what you want, you didn't mean to hurt him, didn't mean to, but the reality is you did that, and you didn't have to. And now you have a guy who's been one of the best at his position for a long time dealing with an injury he shouldn't have to deal with. I think the reality is, if the roles were reversed, and the defensive guy was going into a quarterback or a receiver, or a high-profile player, you tell me what would happen.”
Frazier reiterated that the team hopes Williams will be available to play in the season opener Sept. 8.
With Williams sidelined, depth at defensive tackle has become a concern. Frazier said rookie Sharrif Floyd (knee) was expected to do some work in practice Tuesday but will not play in the final preseason game Thursday night. Christian Ballard remains on the active/left team list. Frazier did not give a timetable for his return.
Frazier said the team knew Jerome Felton’s three-game suspension was always a possibility when they re-signed the Pro Bowl fullback this offseason. Felton’s suspension is the result of his DUI charge last year, which was later reduced to careless driving.
“You always knew that there was potential,” Frazier said. “You didn’t know if it would happen. His incident was some time ago. But it was always looming that this could possibly happen.”
In Felton’s absence, Frazier said the team will look to tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison and possibly rookie Zach Line to fill the void.
On Ellison, Frazier said: “He’s one of the hardest working players on our team. It’s hard to outwork Rhett. He comes prepared every single day. Seeing his work ethic his rookie year, I was so impressed. You just don’t see very many rookies with his maturity and just understanding the time that you have to put in to be good at your craft. He has not let up from his rookie season. I don’t think we can overwork him. He’ll be ready when we line up against Detroit. But yes, we could add more to his plate and we probably will have to now.”
** Frazier said cornerback Chris Cook is OK after leaving the game because of a groin injury.
** Linebacker Erin Henderson is still bothered by a heel injury.
** Safety Mistral Raymond suffered an AC joint sprain of his shoulder and is doubtful for Thursday night.
** Wideout Greg Childs was placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable To Perform list. He has been on the PUP list since camp started while trying to recover from surgery on both knees. The move means he won't be eligible to play through the first six weeks of the season.
Vikings backup defensive end Everson Griffen, who has four sacks this season, faces his first Thanksgiving without his mother. Sabrina Scott passed away in early October while visiting her son in Minnesota.
“With my mom being passed away, I’m just thankful for having had a strong woman like that in my life to come as far as I have,” Griffen said. “I’m thankful for my fiancée and my child on the way, and thankful to have family like that to keep me going."
The due date for Griffen’s child is Jan. 27.
“My mom, she’s right here with me, right now,” he said. “With her guidance, it’s just going to make [Thanksgiving] all that much easier, and with all the support I got from the guys on the team when all that happened, it was fantastic.”
Offensive tackle Matt Kalil is looking forward to his first game against the Bears. He knows All Pro defensive end Julius Peppers, who played with Matt’s brother Ryan in Carolina, and knows the other Bears defensive stars the way the rest of us do – through television.
“It’s kind of surreal seeing all these players I’ve watched all through high school and college and actually going against them now,” Kalil said. “It’s just going to be a pretty cool game.”
Kalil will be matched against Peppers, who has 106 sacks in 11 NFL seasons.
“I know about Julius, especially since he was on the same team as my brother,” Kalil said. “He’s probably one of the greatest d-ends to play the game. He’s an athletic freak, so I definitely have my hands full. He’s good on run, good on pass rushing. He’s a big guy, too. He’s got a lot of power to him. So [I have to] just play a consistent game. Stay steady in my approach.”
Punter Chris Kluwe has engaged in another internet battle, this time in an effort to promote the Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy of Ray Guy. Kluwe believes Guy revolutionized the position enough to merit being the first punter to enter the Hall and has engaged Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King in a e-mail/blog debate on the matter.
“Everyone knows that Ray Guy was THE punter,” said Kluwe. “He’s in the college football hall of fame. He’s got an award named after him. He’s in every other hall of fame except the NFL. It does a disservice to the game by not acknowledging that fact.”
Guy’s statistics pale in comparison to other punters, but his champions have argued that he introduced hang time and pinning opponents inside the 20, sacrificing statistics. Hall of Fame selectors are limited to five modern inductees each season, and Kluwe feels the Hall should change its process to allow for a special teams selection.
Jan Stenerud is the only pure kicker in the Hall, which has no punters. And, it should be pointed out, Stenerud’s statistics also pale in comparison to most modern kickers. Arguments against Guy had used his relatively unimpressive stats as a reason against his inclusion.
“This to me speaks to a fundamental problem in society in that people feel they can denigrate something they don’t understand,” said Kluwe, who was outspoken in his opposition to the recently failed marriage amendment in the Minnesota election. “The Hall of Fame shouldn’t be all punters … but I think there should be at least one. It’s a team sport.”
Linebacker Chad Greenway, on whether the team’s victory against Detroit put it on the right track: “We’ve just played one game back where we sort of wanted to be, so I don’t think we’re back there yet.”
Younger Wilf promoted
Zygi Wilf's son, Jonathan, has been named a team vice president. Here is the Vikings' release:
The Minnesota Vikings have named Jonathan Wilf as the team’s Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Initiatives.
In his new position, Wilf will serve on the Vikings management team and focus on developing short and long-range revenue-generating initiatives for the organization. Wilf will explore the latest technology trends and their applications within the Vikings and at the new stadium set to open in 2016. As part of the stadium development team, he will also be involved with stadium plaza design elements and enhancements to the fan experience at the new facility.
Wilf is a partner in Garden Homes, a family-owned real estate development company in Short Hills, N.J. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he went on to receive his law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University.
The Vikings fell to the Redskins 38-26 at FedEx Field on Sunday, and here are the links to the Star Tribune's coverage:
Robert Griffin III's long scoring run was the final blow, as detailed in Dan's game story.
Mark's Five Thoughts about the game are here.
Jim Souhan wrote about the Vikings defense's reaction to Griffin.
Mark had a story on Christian Ponder's rough day.
Adrian Peterson returned to the scene of last year's injury.
Brian Peterson and Jerry Holt shot all the action.
McKenna Ewen had the postgame video.
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