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 Adrian Peterson

Vikings release their first 'unofficial' depth chart

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: August 5, 2014 - 1:13 PM

The Vikings have released their first “unofficial” depth chart, and there are no major changes from the one that we projected yesterday afternoon.

As expected, Matt Cassel is the first-string quarterback, the five-man offensive line from 2012 and 2013 remains intact, top pick Anthony Barr is the starter at strong-side linebacker and Robert Blanton is listed as the starter next to Harrison Smith despite being out with a hamstring injury.

The only thing that qualifies as a major surprise is that Greg Jennings has apparently been cloned.

But there are a few things worth noting on this "unofficial" depth chart. Rookie Jabari Price is listed ahead of veteran cornerbacks Derek Cox and Marcus Sherels. Audie Cole is the second-string middle linebacker and Michael Mauti is listed as a third-stringer at the weak-side linebacker spot. And Matt Asiata is the primary backup to Adrian Peterson for now, not rookie Jerick McKinnon.

These “unofficial” depth charts are on the Vikings’ website, but to make it easier for you to find, I tweeted out the offensive depth chart here and the defensive depth chart is right here.

Projecting the Vikings' current two-deep depth chart

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: August 4, 2014 - 2:30 PM

Head coach Mike Zimmer maintained throughout the spring and into the summer that he had no depth chart and that he wanted to evaluate his players before worrying about where they stand.

Nearly two weeks into training camp, and four days before the Vikings have actually played a preseason game, that process is still ongoing, making the task of attempting to project Zimmer’s two-deep depth chart a foolish endeavor. But what the heck, I’m going to try it anyway.

To be clear, this projected two-deep depth chart is my best guesstimate -- not Zimmer's -- and I've based it on what we have seen up here in Mankato since the Vikings reported. And keep in mind that Zimmer, General Manager Rick Spielman and the scouting staff will continue to keep an eye on other teams for trade opportunities and preseason roster cuts. There is a chance the Vikings end up starting someone who isn’t even on the roster. But for now, we’ll base it on who’s here.

QUARTERBACK: 1. Matt Cassel. 2. Teddy Bridgewater.

RUNNING BACK: 1. Adrian Peterson. 2. Matt Asiata.

FULLBACK: 1. Jerome Felton. 2. Zach Line.

WIDE RECEIVER: 1. Cordarrelle Patterson. 2. Rodney Smith.

WIDE RECEIVER: 1. Greg Jennings. 2. Adam Thielen.

WIDE RECEIVER: 1. Jerome Simpson. 2. Jarius Wright.

TIGHT END: 1. Kyle Rudolph. 2. Rhett Ellison.

LEFT TACKLE: 1. Matt Kalil. 2. Antonio Richardson.

LEFT GUARD: 1. Charlie Johnson. 2. David Yankey.

CENTER: 1. John Sullivan. 2. Joe Berger.

RIGHT GUARD: 1. Brandon Fusco. 2. Vlad Ducasse.

RIGHT TACKLE: 1. Phil Loadholt. 2. Mike Remmers.

Notes: Asiata gets the edge over rookie Jerick McKinnon for now, but McKinnon has lately been the preferred third-down replacement for Peterson. … Chase Ford might have entered camp as the favorite to back up Rudolph at tight end, but he is sidelined indefinitely with a fractured foot. Either way, though, he and Ellison have different but useful skill sets. … Barring an upset or an injury, it appears the Vikings already have their starting five offensive linemen set in stone, at least for the season opener. … Kevin Murphy has also seen snaps at right tackle behind Loadholt.

LEFT DEFENSIVE END: 1. Brian Robison. 2. Corey Wootton.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 1. Sharrif Floyd. 2. Tom Johnson.

NOSE TACKLE: 1. Linval Joseph. 2. Fred Evans.

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END: 1. Everson Griffen. 2. Scott Crichton.                                            

STRONG-SIDE LINEBACKER: 1. Anthony Barr. 2. Audie Cole.

MIDDLE LINEBACKER: 1. Jasper Brinkley. 2. Michael Mauti.

WEAK-SIDE LINEBACKER: 1. Chad Greenway. 2. Brandon Watts.

LEFT CORNERBACK: 1. Josh Robinson. 2. Marcus Sherels.

NICKEL CORNERBACK: 1. Captain Munnerlyn. 2. Jabari Price.

RIGHT CORNERBACK: 1. Xavier Rhodes. 2. Derek Cox.

FREE SAFETY: 1. Robert Blanton. 2. Kurt Coleman.

STRONG SAFETY: 1. Harrison Smith. 2. Jamarca Sanford.

Notes: Rookie Shamar Stephen could push the veteran Evans to be the primary backup at nose tackle to Joseph. … Determining where the linebackers slot proved to be a challenge as the coaching staff has been shuffling them to see where each fits best. … Brinkley is the frontrunner to start at middle linebacker in the base defense, but he might not sniff the field when opponents use more than two wide receivers at once. … The Vikings have been using Sherels, the scrappy cornerback, with the starting defense in Robinson’s absence. … Blanton needs to get back from his hamstring injury soon to stay atop the depth chart. … The safety spots could be interchangeable.

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: July 29

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 29, 2014 - 8:23 AM

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

We have a long way to go until the Vikings’ position battles are settled. But of all the position groups, the linebacker situation is easily the one with the least clarity four days into camp.

Take last night’s practice for example. One second you see No. 52, 54 and 57 on the field together. Then you look up and No. 55 is out there with some first-teamers in the blitz period. Then you see No. 50 or 56 or 58 getting sprinkled in with the first or second team.

Whoops, you just blinked and missed another combination.  

“We are rotating a lot of different guys in a lot of different areas,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said a couple of days ago, adding, “We like the competition, we like the guys that we have got, we know it will work itself out in the end.”

My best early guess: Chad Greenway will be one starter, and could either be in the middle or at one outside linebacker spot. Mike Zimmer loves him some Anthony Barr, so I bet we see him starting on the outside, though a job isn’t going to be handed to him. As for that third spot in the base defense, your guess is as good as mine right now. What do you say we just throw some darts?

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- TE Kyle Rudolph and the Vikings envision a bright future together.

--- RB Adrian Peterson thinks the Vikings offense will be much less predictable.

--- The Vikings had a spirited practice under the lights last night.

--- Rookie CB Jabari Price is learning to play with better technique instead of relying on speed.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Could Jimmy Clausen be the Bears’ backup quarterback?

--- The Lions have called off contract talks with DT Ndamukong Suh.

--- Pass rusher Julius Peppers is settling in with the Packers.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

Today is a scheduled off day for Vikings players, and for us, too. Time to catch up on laundry.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

We have yet to see a Vikings quarterback throw an interception in team drills through the first four days of training camp. And yes, before you ask, that’s including Christian Ponder. What are we to make of that? I guess it depends on whether you are a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty guy or gal. On one hand, offensive coordinator Norv Turner has stressed ball control, so the lack of picks is a good thing. But Zimmer wants his defensive backs to contest passes, and while they have done a decent job deflecting passes and jarring them from receivers, interceptions are even better.

Kyle Rudolph talks about signing new Vikings deal

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 28, 2014 - 1:14 PM

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who signed a five-year extension with the team, just took a quick shower while we talked to Adrian Peterson after the morning walkthrough -- no word on whether he dried himself off with crisp new $100 bills -- then met us to talk about his new deal.

“It’s a dream true, to walk off the practice field and have Rick [Spielman call me over] and give me a big hug and say, ‘Congratulations. You earned it. We’re extremely happy to have you here for the next six years.’” Rudolph said. “Right there I couldn’t thank him enough. Publicly, I can’t thank him, the Wilf family, everyone involved to keep me here for the next six years.”

Rudolph said that negotiations with the Vikings started to pick up a couple of weeks ago. His agent, Brian Murphy, flew into the Twin Cities the day of the MLB All-Star Game and over the next two days started to build the framework of the deal with Spielman and cap guru Rob Brzezinski. Last night, after practice, Rudolph put pen to paper to make the deal official.

Now, Rudolph, a 24-year-old who was the Pro Bowl MVP in 2012, has to live up to it.

“No one is going to motivate me more than I motivate myself,” he said. “No one is going to have higher expectations than I have of myself. And that’s to be the best. I’m going to continue to go out there every day, work the way that I do to become the best tight end in this league.”

So is Rudolph going to treat himself to something nice? His first purchase will not be a new house or truck. He’s fine with the ones he’s got. No, he is going to keep a promise to his high school strength coach by helping to put in a new weight room at Elder High in Cincinnati. Pretty cool.

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