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.
Remember those nights where you'd have eight, maybe 10 Coors Lights, then throw a dollar into the "Photo Hunt" machine on the bar just for added amusement?
Well, we've got a free challenge for you here on the Access Vikings blog -- beverages optional.
Can you spot the differences between the Vikings old logo and their brand new logo, which the franchise is insisting "speaks to the direction the team is heading while still preserving the tradition of the Norseman"?
Give it a quick look.
Yep, the one on the left is the Norseman of the past. The one on the right if the Norseman of the future.
And yes, the Vikings made this grand announcement to season ticket holders first on Thursday morning. And now they have the announcement up on their website.
So now we get to the spoiler alert. If you're not ready for the answers, stare at those logos again. Now here, per the Vikings, are the five distinct differences:
1) Horn Shape
The shape of the horns has been adjusted and the shading in the horns has changed.
2) Horn Base
The base of the horn now resembles the horn on the players’ helmets.
3) Face Detail
Thicker lines have been added to the mustache and face.
4) Vikings Gold
The Vikings Gold is now brighter and less brassy.
5) The Braid
The braid has been shortened, resulting in a reduced logo height.
And here's the organization's explanation for why these changes are being implemented now:
As the Vikings transition into the drafting of plans for the new stadium and the prevalent Norseman usage throughout that facility, the team realized this is the appropriate time to make these logo enhancements. The evolution will not happen overnight; Vikings fans can expect to see both versions of the logo during the transition period, but the enhanced mark will be noticeable immediately throughout vikings.com. Merchandise with the enhanced Norseman could be available as early as March. ... We are looking forward to many exciting changes for our team and fans in the next few years, leading up to the opening of our new stadium. These logo enhancements are just the beginning...
Man, if this is just the beginning, who knows what might be in store next?
Eventually, we can circle back to the topics of Percy Harvin's future and Leslie Frazier's contract. For now, enjoy the change.
Defending quarterback Christian Ponder was the general theme of Vikings coach Leslie Frazier’s press conference at Winter Park on Monday, a day after the Packers beat the Vikings 23-14 at Lambeau Field.
Ponder was 12 for 25 for 119 yards and had two critical interceptions in the game, negating a 210-yard rushing performance by Adrian Peterson.
Frazier said he “never really” considered replacing Ponder with backup Joe Webb, but said Ponder would “have to be better” on Sunday when the Vikings play the Bears at the Metrodome.
What does Frazier say to the fans who want Ponder benched?
"When you are in a business where you're judged by results and results for us are based on wins and losses, when you come up short that does create some frustration,” Frazier said, “but we do have confidence that Christian will continue to get better. That was a tough day at times for him yesterday. … We think he's more than capable of being successful. He showed it early in the season, he's played some consistent football for us. We've got to get him back to playing that way.”
Frazier acknowledged that Ponder was tentative at times: “Sometimes you got to throw the ball when guys come out of their breaks. In our league, it's not very often that guys are going to be wide open. So when we say throw it on time, on time means when the guy comes out of his break deliver the football. You've got to be able to make that decision whether you can get it in there or not.”
“I still think he's a very confident quarterback. I really do. We just got to get him to the point where we're making some of those plays that we know he's capable of making. … in our business, so much falls on the quarterback's shoulders. He's the guy who gets a lot of accolades when the team wins and he gets a lot of blame when your team loses. But there are some things he can do better and he knows that.”
Frazier was asked about backup quarterback Joe Webb, and said, “We think Joe can do it. We think he's a quality quarterback. He's our backup now. If he had to step in and play, we have confidence that he would do a good job. But we do have confidence that Christian is going to play better. He knows he has to in order for us to win. But with Joe, we think he's very capable. That's why we kept him on the roster, kept him in the spot that he's in. We know if necessary he'd be able to help us.”
Frazier didn’t seem to rule out pulling Ponder from a game, however. When asked about Vikings players losing faith in Ponder, Frazier said, “When you're struggling at a position, the guys know how we talked about everybody doing their jobs and why it's important for us to have our success. You don't want to send mixed messages at any position. It's important that all the positions do their jobs and function well. The quarterback position is always under that bright light. … There's a lot riding on this next ballgame for our football team and I'm sure there are a lot of guys looking and wondering if we can get it done under the current situation. I believe we can. I believe we'll play better, not only at the quarterback position but at other positions as well.”
Vikings wide receivers did not catch a pass against the Packers until the final minutes, and have come under heavy criticism the past few games for their lack of production.
“They've got to get open,” Frazier said. “They've got to make the catch when the opportunity comes. … We had a number of dropped balls in that Chicago ballgame and it wasn't all just on Christian to get some completions. It's a combination of protection along with guys getting open and making catches when they have an opportunity and the quarterback being able to deliver the football. That's part of having a good passing game. So our receivers know that, our quarterback knows it, our offensive line knows it and now we've got to find a way to be more productive in the passing game."
On the injury front, Frazier said defensive end Jared Allen had back spasms and was having an MRI today, although he suspected Allen would be ready to play Sunday against Chicago. Center John Sullivan (rib contusion) is also likely to play. Percy Harvin (ankle) has missed the past two games, and Frazier said the team would know more about him “as the week goes on.”
Coach Leslie Frazier came bearing good news -- at least for Vikings fans -- on the injury front.
Two key starters that were iffy on Monday don't seem so iffy anymore. Tight end Kyle Rudolph and free safety Harrison Smith were cleared to practice after suffering concussions on Sunday. Rudolph, however, might not practice because of a "shoulder strain" he's dealing with, Frazier said.
Also, receiver Percy Harvin will test his ankle in practice today. He's missed the past two games because of a sprained left ankle.
"Percy is going to try and see what he can do and then we'll get a better gauge [on his status for Sunday's game at Green Bay] post-practice," Frazier said. "But he'll attempt to do some things, so we'll get a better feel for where he is."
Harvin went through some drills with the team's athletic trainers on Tuesday, Frazier said.
"We took him through a few things indoors," Frazier said. "He was OK, but definitely not there yet. So we want to increase it today and see how he does."
Frazier also said running back Adrian Peterson (shoulder strain) will try to participate in everything the team does, but will have a limited number of reps.
So, overall, Frazier was pretty darn happy about the team's health heading into its first December game.
"No question," Frazier said. "To know that Kyle and Harrison have been cleared, that's a big deal because they are two of the keys to our football team. And the fact that Percy is going to attempt to do something today, that's encouraging. It's just a matter of how far he can go. But it's a big deal that those guys are out there practicing."
We'll have a post-practice update once the injury report is released.
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