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 NFC

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.

It's Cassel's job to lose, but consistency hasn't always been his strength

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: July 26, 2014 - 10:29 AM

For a quarterback competition, things have been pretty boring as we watch for movement up and/or down the depth chart for Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater and, oh yeah, Christian Ponder.

So far, through OTAs, a minicamp and one non-padded training camp practice, things have pretty much stayed exactly the same since about the time Bridgewater showed up at Winter Park sporting a quick release, a strong work ethic and poise beyond his 21 years.

Friday’s practice played out the way things have for months. Cassel was the No. 1 quarterback and threw 10 passes, completing six, during 11-on-11 competition. Bridgewater was No. 2 and threw eight passes, completing five. Ponder went third and threw only two passes, completing one.

Thursday, coach Mike Zimmer called Cassel the No. 1 quarterback, but was careful to say that could change. Friday, he was asked why he went out of his way to call Cassel No. 1 and whether he felt obliged to do that because Cassel is the veteran.

“I figured everybody would ask,” Zimmer said. “I did not feel obliged to make that statement whatsoever. It doesn’t mean that when we play the St. Louis Rams [on opening day] he’s going to be the starter, but he was going to line up with the first team. I knew you all wanted to hear something like that. That’s why I did it.

“I think I clarified that when I said it yesterday, he’s number one quarterback but he’s not declared the starter.”

Cassel was asked if he was expecting Zimmer to make that statement heading into camp.

“I would be lying if I said I was not,” he said. “I worked hard this offseason; I think I made a lot of progress. I think we made a lot of progress collectively as a group. My job going into camp is to continue to compete and work every day. Again, I still have to earn this thing.

“There is no easy way about it, you have to go out and perform and show these guys you know how to run the offence and you are going to be accountable to put these guys in a position to be successful.”

Bridgewater is really the only one of the three to make an upward move. After quickly moving ahead of Ponder, he’s gaining on Cassel and will no doubt put some heat on the 11-year veteran before Zimmer makes his decision later this preseason.

We’ll be doing a story Wednesday on new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s take on the development of Bridgewater. But for now, let’s just say after sitting down with Turner to watch practice film of Bridgewater, it was obvious that the longtime NFL coach is pleased with the progress and promise that Bridgewater is showing.

The Vikings practice again today, but the pads don’t go on until Sunday. Obviously, the quarterbacks don’t get hit in practice, but the tempo at the line and down the field ramps closer to game speed. So we’ll be learning more as the days pass.

Ultimately, if Cassel shows consistency, he can keep the job and allow the Vikings to be patient with Bridgewater, the rookie first-round draft pick. But consistency hasn’t always been a strength for Cassel over the years.

Yes, he was the best performer last year during the team’s three-headed quarterbacking fiasco. But while we should applaud his play in the wins over Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, we also shouldn’t forget the stinkers he had against Carolina at home and Cincinnati on the road.

Bridgewater is No. 2, but this competition has yet to hit its stride.

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.

Patterson misses practice, day to day with a foot injury

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: July 25, 2014 - 5:24 PM

Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was held out of practice today for precautionary reasons and has been listed by the team as day to day with a foot injury. A source called it a "minor" issue.

Because of the injury, Patterson didn't take his conditioning test when players reported to camp on Thursday. The first practice of camp was today. The team will won't be allowed to put full pads on and begin hitting until Sunday.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: July 25

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 25, 2014 - 7:19 AM

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

Pushing carts stocked with flat-screen TVs and video-game systems -- in Everson Griffen’s case, an old Nintendo 64 -- and pulling wheeled suitcases into the dorms, Vikings players on Thursday reported to the quiet campus of Minnesota State Mankato for the start of training camp.

After dropping off their stuff in their rooms, they took their physicals and had to run the team’s conditioning test, something Adrian Peterson said previous coaching staffs never asked players to do. But the Vikings didn’t put on helmets or pick up any footballs. That all comes today.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

--- Wanting to focus on football today, the Vikings made Mike Priefer available yesterday.

--- Chase Ford is expected to miss all of camp, but Matt Kalil and Linval Joseph are good to go.

--- Adrian Peterson wants to know who is going to start at quarterback soon, too.

--- This is more than a day old, but oh well, here is my pre-camp Q&A with Mike Zimmer.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

--- Packers WR Jordy Nelson wants to get paid.

--- The Lions put WR Golden Tate and DE Ziggy Ansah on the PUP list at the start of camp.

--- The Bears are learning to deal with high expectations.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

Camp Zimmer officially kicks off at Minnesota State Mankato with a morning walkthrough that starts at 10:30 a.m. The first full practice runs from 3 p.m. to approximately 5:10 p.m. and players will be in helmets and shells. The first full-padded practice isn’t until Sunday afternoon.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Ten different quarterbacks have started a game for the Vikings since Peterson entered the league in 2007. No wonder the guy is hoping for a little stability at the position this season.

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