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.
The Vikings have made it official. The guy who bounced Brett Favre's head off the ice at TCF Bank Stadium in the Vikings' last and only game at TCF Bank Stadium will be wearing purple the next time the team plays a game at TCF Bank Stadium.
Former Bears defensive end Corey Wootton has indeed signed his one-year deal. He's the fifth defensive lineman the team has signed or re-signed since the start of free agency.
Wootton, a five-year veteran who was a fourth-round draft pick of the Bears, comes in as the experienced backup defensive end that the team lost when Everson Griffen was re-signed to replace Jared Allen as the starter at right end.
Wootton has 11 sacks in 45 NFL games. The first sack of his career was the last play of Favre's career. It came Dec. 21, 2010 at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Vikings were forced to play there because of the Metrodome roof collapse. Favre was ruled out of the game earlier in the week, but ended up playing anyway. He leff the game with a concussion after the Wooten sack, didn't play the following week in the season-ending game at Detroit. And, as of 10:29 this morning, he remains retired.
The Vikings will play the next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium while their new stadium is being built.
Defensive lineman Corey Wootton, who was with the Bears the past four years, agreed to a one-year contract with the Vikings on Thursday.
Both Wootton (@coreywootton) and his agent, Mike McCartney, tweeted that Wootton would be coming to Minnesota. Fox Sports reported the deal was worth $1.5 million with incentives worth another $500,000.
Wootton, 6-6 and 270 pounds, started 15 games last season with one sack. The 26-year-old had arthroscopic hip surgery following the season.
Wootton, a fourth round pick out of Northwestern in 2010, was the Bear who sacked Brett Favre, giving Favre a concussion at TCF Bank Stadium in a 2010 game that marked his final NFL appearance. The sack was Wootton's first in the NFL.
Greg Jennings had questions. After seven seasons in Green Bay, the proven receiver knew he was in the mood for a change of atmosphere, for something new and different. And he was seeking to join a team where he would not only be able to produce big numbers but where he would also feel wanted.
But Minnesota? Becoming a Viking? It was a hard thing to envision at first. Ya know, the whole flipping sides in an intense rivalry factor.
Yet as Jennings headed to the Twin Cities in mid-March for his free agent visit, he made the obvious phone call. To Brett Favre. Who would know more about the Packers-to-Vikings transition than Favre?
So what exactly did Favre tell Jennings about what to expect with the Vikings? That’s what CBS Sports Network’s Jim Rome asked Jennings this week on his TV show “ROME.”
Jennings’ response: “He told me the pros and the cons. Obviously I asked him how it was over here. And he told me some of the things that I would like and dislike. But one of the things that caught my attention was what he said about the people. He said that I would love the organization, I would love the people within the organization. He said the facilities weren’t the best but the people were great. The facilities are what you make of it. That doesn’t make or break my decision and didn’t make or break my decision. But the people would definitely make or break a decision. And the moment I stepped off that plane and met some of the staff, met Mr. Spielman, Coach Frazier, some of the other guys, Coach Musgrave, they were open arms. They were great. They were genuine, they were authentic and it drew me right in.”
So here we are. Jennings is a Viking, almost certain to emerge as Christian Ponder’s top receiver in 2013. And in his visit with Rome this week, Jennings also discussed his desire to feel wanted, his confidence in his new quarterback and his expectations for the team this fall.
Enjoy the video.
Every three or four years, a former Packers star decides to come west and bail the Vikings out of a gigantic jam.
Ryan Longwell filled a gaping hole at kicker in 2006 and went on to post six successful seasons. Brett Favre stepped in for a QB-starved outfit in 2009 and led it to within seconds of a Super Bowl. And now former Packers receiver Greg Jennings has signed on with a Vikings team that's bone dry at receiver and hasn't had a legitimate No. 1 wideout since Sidney Rice was catching passes from Favre in 2009. Jennings' deal is for five years, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Jennings doesn't fit Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's normal parameters for a free agent. Jennings will turn 30 in September and has missed 11 games because of knee and core muscle injuries over the past two seasons.
But here's what Jennings is: Productive. Although he caught only 36 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, he did post 1,100-yard seasons from 2008 to 2010.
Jennings will be introduced during a press conference at Winter Park at 7:15 p.m. We'll have more later this evening.
Quarterback Christian Ponder is listed as questionable for the Vikings-Packers game tomorrow because of his sore right elbow. Ponder had limited participation in practice all week.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield is also questionable because of his broken right hand.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Thursday that he expected both to play.
Tyrone McKenzie, one of the team's top special teams player, is out because of an injured shoulder.
Listed as probable are running back Adrian Peterson (abdomen), safety Harrison Smith (knee), defensive end Brian Robison (shoulder), defensive end Jared Allen (shoulder), cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle), defensive end George Johnson (quadriceps), punter Chris Kluwe (left, or non-kicking, knee) and right tackle Phil Loadholt (knee).
Update: For the Packers, defensive end Jerel Worthy (knee) and wide reciever Jarrett Boykin (ankle) are out, and running back James Starks (knee) is questionable.
Cornerback Charles Woodson returns from a broken collarbone and is probable, as are wide receiver Jordy Nelson (knee), receiver/kick returner Randall Cobb (ankle) and running back Alex Green (hip).
Out means a player has no chance of playing (unless he's Brett Favre). Questionable is 50 percent chance. Probable is virtual certainty he will play.
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