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 Jared Allen

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: July 27

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 27, 2014 - 7:36 AM

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

Finally, the Vikings are breaking out the pads.

The first two days of Camp Zimmer felt like a couple of spring workouts with the players in shells doing non-contact drills. But things will heat up in Mankato today with the first full-padded practice of Zimmer’s tenure. We in the media are certainly excited to see some contact, and that anticipation pales in comparison to what the coaching staff is feeling. During his news conference yesterday, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards pointed out at least a half dozen times that he couldn't draw too many conclusions about players and competitions until he saw them in pads.

That doesn’t mean there will be huge hits left and right. Zimmer -- who must walk the line between running an aggressive, physical camp and keeping his players healthy -- said he wants it to be “thud” contact only, not tackling to the ground. Oh, and "Adrian won't get tackled,” he added.

Still, with the players in pads starting today, we’ll start to see guys distinguish themselves.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- Whether he is saying it publicly or not, Teddy Bridgewater is preparing to be the guy.

--- Adrian Peterson’s pass protection is being praised by the new staff.

--- Captain Munnerlyn keeps proving doubters wrong.

--- The offense struck back during yesterday’s training camp practice.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Bears DE Jared Allen had some interesting things to say about his time with the Vikings.

--- Packers WR Jordy Nelson got his big day, but will there be any left for WR Randall Cobb?

--- Lions QB Matthew Stafford is entering a new phase in his career.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings will hold their walkthrough from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m. Practice will run from 3 to 5:10 p.m. Zimmer is scheduled to speak with the media for the first time since Friday morning.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Continuity is important on the offensive line, and, yes, talent is kind of important, too. Still, it’s pretty noteworthy that the Vikings return all five starting linemen from the 2012 and 2013 seasons. How many other teams can say that? One, maybe two. The Patriots have definitely started the same five guys. The 49ers have not, but their current starting five have been on their roster at least that long.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: July 26

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 26, 2014 - 7:22 AM

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

After an interesting first day to Mike Zimmer’s training camp that included a fire alarm waking up the players in the middle of the night and an injury keeping one of the team’s top young players out of practice, the Vikings will be back at it again today at Minnesota State Mankato.

Yesterday’s afternoon practice itself was pretty uneventful, with the players practicing in shells and Zimmer easing his players into training camp. We’ll be looking for the intensity to pick up today. We’ll also be looking to see if Cordarrelle Patterson is back at practice after sitting out yesterday.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- Despite the absence of hitting, it was an eventful first day to Camp Zimmer.

--- Linval Joseph is healthy and ready to roll, and Zimmer sounds pretty excited about it.

--- Patterson missed practice with a foot injury and is considered day-to-day.

--- The Vikings made a couple of minor roster moves and put three players on the PUP list.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Jared Allen is already making his presence known on the Bears defense.

--- The Packers are turning to youth on their defensive line.

--- The Lions are not optimistic about getting a deal done with Ndamukong Suh.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings will hold their morning walkthrough at 10:30 a.m. Afterwards, we will hear from coordinators Norv Turner and George Edwards. The team will practice in shells starting at 3 p.m.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

The Vikings, who have been coming down to Mankato every summer since 1964, are one of just 14 NFL teams to hold their training camp away from their practice facility. According to MMQB.com, 27 NFL teams held their camp away from home back in 2000. The Vikings, by the way, are locked into holding training camp at Minnesota State Mankato for one more summer.

Going camping: Vikings defensive line preview

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 22, 2014 - 10:09 AM

It was an offseason of change for the Vikings, from the coaching staff to the stadium in which they will play their home games in 2014. Of all the things that will be different this season, the defensive line is up there. The Vikings overhauled that group this spring, letting two fan favorites go in free agency, signing an emerging nose tackle and putting their faith in two young players.

After looking at the big guys on the other side of the line, let’s break down the D-line today.

WHERE THINGS STAND: Outside of Brian Robison, the defensive line looked, well, different this spring without a pair of longtime defensive cornerstones in Kevin Williams and Jared Allen. The Vikings allowed those two to leave in free agency, instead hitching their wagon to talented but unproven youngsters in Sharrif Floyd and Everson Griffen. Still, new head coach Mike Zimmer, who relied on a deep defensive line rotation in Cincinnati, said last month that he thinks the Vikings will have enough talent and depth along the defensive line. He couldn’t say definitively, though, because a few key contributors were either sidelined by injuries or ineligible to practice due to NFL rules. Griffen and free-agent signee Linval Joseph, a big nose tackle, were limited this spring, as was versatile backup defensive end Corey Wootton. And fellow end Scott Crichton was stuck at Oregon State until the mandatory minicamp. The return of those four to active duty will boost the defensive line in training camp, giving Zimmer’s coaching staff a lot to evaluate.

CAMP BATTLE TO WATCH: The Vikings have four defensive ends who can probably be penciled onto the 53-man roster in Robison, Griffen, Crichton and Wootton. And Joseph and Floyd, one of their 2013 first-rounders, are expected to be the starting defensive tackles. But the battle to back those two up should be interesting. Veterans Fred Evans and Tom Johnson will compete with younger players in Kheeston Randall, Chase Baker and Shamar Stephen, a 2014 seventh-rounder.

THE BURNING QUESTION: Can Floyd and Griffen live up to lofty expectations? Floyd had his moments in a rookie season that included 2.5 sacks, but he has yet to distinguish himself as a starter in the league and the coaching staff has said he too often is thinking instead of reacting on the practice field. Griffen had 17.5 sacks in four seasons as a part-time player, and after the team opted to pay big money to him instead of Allen, the pressure is on the 26-year-old to produce.

Factoids and trends from recent Vikings drafts

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 5, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Will history repeat itself for the Vikings during this week’s NFL draft? Well, the Vikings have a lot of history -- six decades and counting -- so sure, some things are bound to feel familiar.

But what about the recent history? Which positions have they been picking? Which schools have they scoured? When have they been selecting players? And how many had staying power?

Partially to entertain and inform you but mostly just to educate myself because I’m new here, I decided to look for some trends and factoids from recent Vikings draft classes. I dug through the eight drafts from 2006 to 2013 (GM Rick Spielman came on board after the 2006 draft). Also, if I would have gone the whole way back to 1961, I wouldn’t have finished this by Thursday night.

Here is a quick look at the who, what, whens and wheres of the Vikings’ last eight draft classes (I’ll leave the whys -- or the whys?!?!? -- up to you).

--- The Vikings drafted 61 players from 2006 to 2013. Of those picks, 31 were used for defensive players, 28 were used for offensive players, one was used for a kicker and one for a punter.

--- Which positions have they targeted the most? They have selected nine linebackers, nine wide receivers and nine offensive linemen. They drafted eight cornerbacks, too. Which have they targeted the least? They have drafted just two running backs and not a single fullback (although they took Rutgers linebacker Ryan D'Imperio in the seventh round in 2010 with the idea of converting him to fullback, which they did).

--- They have drafted players from 39 different schools. Spielman and the Vikings have a reputation for coveting Golden Domers, and it’s legitimate as they have drafted four players from Notre Dame since 2006. That is tied for the most with Florida State and USC. They have selected three players apiece from Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas and my alma mater, Penn State.

--- They have drafted just one player, linebacker Nate Triplett, from the U of Minnesota.

--- The Vikings have drafted 12 players from the SEC, the most of the major BCS conferences. That should come as no surprise given the SEC’s powerhouse reputation. They have drafted nine players apiece from the Big Ten and the Pac 10, eight from the ACC and five from the Big 12.

--- The Vikings have made 35 trades involving draft picks over the past eight years, and that includes player-for-pick trades during the regular season. They had seven trades involving draft picks in both 2008 and 2012. The 2008 year was the one when they acquired Jared Allen.

--- The Vikings have selected nine players in the first round, including five the past two years. They have drafted nine in the second (but none in the past two drafts), three in the third (and just one in the past four), eight in the fourth, 10 in the fifth, 10 in the sixth and 12 in the seventh.

--- Of their nine first-round picks, only two were in the top 10 and just three were in the top 16.

--- Their earliest pick was USC tackle Matt Kalil at fourth overall in 2012. Their latest was the 237th pick in 2010, used on D'Imperio.

--- The most picks they had in one draft was 10 each in 2011 and 2012. The fewest were five, which they had in both 2008 and 2009. They will enter Thursday’s draft with eight selections.

--- The most valuable five draft picks, based on Pro Football Reference's weighted career approximate value, in order were Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Percy Harvin, John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt. Christian Ponder was the seventh most valuable, for what it is worth.

--- Of their 61 draft picks from 2006 to 2013, 27 are still on the roster (that includes Jasper Brinkley, who left and came back). But just eight Vikings drafted between 2006 and 2010 remain.

How are the Vikings spending their money?

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 14, 2014 - 7:19 AM

The Vikings were active before and immediately after the start of free agency, spending big bucks to re-sign defensive end Everson Griffen and quarterback Matt Cassel then bolstering their defense by adding defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

Now, a month after the NFL’s shopping spree began, all of the marquee free agents have been snatched up and the spending has died down around the league. But G.M. Rick Spielman and the Vikings have shown they still plan to tinker with the roster, evidenced by last week’s signing of wide receiver Lestar Jean and their contract offer to free-agent safety Kurt Coleman.

As of this morning, the Vikings have just under $11 million in salary cap space remaining, according to overthecap.com, so they will likely carry financial flexibility into the 2014 season.

That space could also allow them to offer an extension to an emerging young player -- tight end Kyle Rudolph is an obvious candidate -- before that player comes close to reaching free agency.

That is a post for another day, though, because today, I wanted to take a closer look at how the Vikings have spent their money. The website overthecap.com is a valuable resource, and it allows you to look at how much money each of the 32 teams is spending for each position.

For example, even though the Vikings are still in need of a backup running back to take some of the burden from Adrian Peterson, something my colleague Mark Craig explored over the weekend, no team has committed more of their salary cap space to the running back position.

As of this morning, the Vikings had $61.28 million of their cap space allocated to offensive players and $52.93 million to defenders. Their three specialists combine for a $2.41 million cap figure.

Let’s run though the numbers and see how much the Vikings are paying at each position group.

Quarterback ($8.98 million, 20th in the NFL): The Vikings are spending $8.98 million at the quarterback position after bringing back Cassel with a two-year, $10.5 million deal. Christian Ponder, a former first-round pick turned clipboard-holder, has a cap hit of $3.23 million. A dozen teams are spending less at the position, including the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, which shows how helpful it can be to have a quality starting quarterback on a rookie deal.

Running back ($19.16 million, most in the NFL): The Vikings have the NFL’s best back in Peterson, but he also carries a premier contract. Peterson has a cap number of $14.4 million this season, the highest cap figure on the team and the highest among NFL running backs. And with $2.13 million on the cap, Jerome Felton is carries one of the highest figures among fullbacks.

Wide receiver ($12.29 million, 21st in the NFL): Greg Jennings, in the second year of his contract, will count for $7 million against the cap. But the rest of the team's wide receivers combine to make just over $5 million. At $1.64 million, Cordarrelle Patterson should be bargain.

Tight end ($1.97 million, 30th in the NFL): Only two teams are spending less money on tight ends than the Vikings. In the final year of his rookie deal, Rudolph has a cap hit of $1.47 million.

Offensive line ($23.05 million, 17th in the NFL): The Vikings have one of the NFL's better pairs of starting offensive tackles in Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt, but they are only counting for a combined $11.14 million in salary cap space. Center John Sullivan has a cap hit of $4.75 million. The collective cap hits of those three will go up in 2015, but only about $3 million combined.

Defensive end ($16.59 million, ninth in the NFL): Despite letting long-time sack specialist Jared Allen walk in free agency, the Vikings still have a large amount of salary committed to this critical position. Griffen's $8.2 million cap figure is second on the team to only Peterson. Fellow starter Brian Robison, who also got a new deal from the Vikings, has a $5.7 million cap figure.

Defensive tackle ($11.27 million, 11th in the NFL): Joseph, the newcomer at nose tackle, has a cap figure of $5.75 million, fifth-highest on the Vikings roster. Sharrif Floyd, a 2013 first-round draft pick and the other projected starter at defensive tackle, carries a cap hit of $1.84 million.

Linebacker ($11.03 million, 24th in the NFL): The Vikings have a lot of youngsters at this position group, and those guys come relatively cheap. Veteran starter Chad Greenway, however, has a big cap number of $7.2 million, which ranks third on the Vikings behind Peterson and Griffen.

Cornerback ($9.81 million, 25th in the NFL): Munnerlyn was a significant signing for the Vikings, who needed a corner to play in the slot. But he carries a modest cap hit of just $3.33 million. Only one other Vikings cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, has a cap hit of more than $1 million. Derek Cox, a former starter in Jacksonville then San Diego, will make just $780,000.

Safeties ($6.40 million, 21st in the NFL): Starting strong safety Jamarca Sanford has a cap hit of $2.5 million, higher than starting free safety Harrison Smith, who has a $1.95 million cap figure.

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