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 Off the field

Adrian Peterson (ankle) out, goes to hospital for MRI

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 8, 2013 - 2:03 PM

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is questionable to return due to an ankle injury suffered in the second quarter.

Peterson injured his ankle when he was tackled on a third down catch with 11:27 left in the first half. He was helped off the field and eventually carted into the locker room. Peterson had X-rays according to the broadcast and walked on his own power inside the tunnel.

Peterson had seven carries for 13 yards in the snowy conditions. Toby Gerhart replaced Peterson at running back on the next series.

Update: Peterson has been officially ruled out. The broadcast said Peterson has left the stadium to a nearby hospital for an MRI.

It'll be the Gerhart show in the backfield in the second half.

Vikings' waiting game begins; Olsen tweets "I'm feeling much better"

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: August 30, 2013 - 1:55 PM

The Vikings finished their preseason with a 24-23 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night and now comes the hard part.

The team must trim the roster from 75 to 53 by Saturday's 5 p.m. deadline. Leslie Frazier, his coaching staff and general manager Rick Spielman will meet today to begin setting the final roster.

The team could begin informing players today but the Vikings won't announce the moves officially until Saturday afternoon.

These two days are anxious times for players on the bubble.

"It is without question one of the toughest parts," Frazier said of releasing players. "When you sit down and realize that for a lot of the guys that played tonight, they will probably never wear an NFL uniform again and we have to sit down and discuss who those guys might be. When you sit down with them on that Saturday, or Friday, they come by the office and you explain to them their career in Minnesota for sure is going to be over, and there’s a possibility it may be over for good, it can get emotional."

Spielman has final say over roster decisions, but Frazier said personnel matters are a collaborative effort with the coaching staff.

"Rick is going to give his input and I’m going to share my input, but he is going to make that final decision," Frazier said. "One of the things that he’s learned and I’ve learned is that you don’t want to make that decision about a player if the coaches, the head coach in particular, are totally against it. It’s hard if as a coach, you have to get this guy going and so on and then you don’t necessarily believe in it. It’s a tough deal, but we’ve been very fortunate in our relationship where we can discuss every single guy, talk about what needs to be done and what’s best for our football team. Whether it be the draft or whether it be the 75 or the 53, we have always been able to come to an agreement and make it work for our team."

Asked if he has a chip he can use if he wants a certain player, Frazier laughed.

"No, there are no chips," he said. "You don’t know Rick very well."
 
Update: Vikings guard Seth Olsen, who was taken off the field on a stretcher last night because of a neck/head injury, seems fine.  He was walking around the locker room after the game, but couldn't speak to the media because of the league's concussion protocol. Today, Olson (@SethOlsen) tweeted:  Thank you to everyone for the prayers! I'm feeling much better now. Medical staff was excellent. Appreciate all the support. God is good!

 

Vikings edge Titans 24-23 to avoid winless preseason

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: August 29, 2013 - 9:55 PM

Blair Walsh kicked a 25-yard field goal with 1:41 left to give the Vikings a 24-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans at the Metrodome on Thursday night, helping the Vikings avoid a winless preseason.

Marcus Sherels' 109 yard kickoff return to start the second half was the game's highlight play.

Sherels' return gave the Vikings a 21-17 lead, but the Titans got field goals of 30 and 24 yards from Rob Bironas to take a 23-21 lead.

Walsh missed a 42-yard field goal attempt with 7:36 remaining.

But led by quarterback Bethel McLeod-Thompson, the Vikings drove to set up Walsh's winning kick in the final minutes.

Tennessee got the ball back but a botched snap was recovered by the Vikings' Collins Ukwu with 53 seconds left.

Rusty Smith hit Jack Doyle with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds left in the first half to give Tennessee a 17-14 halftime lead. 

Bethel-Thompson connected with Joe Banyard for an 11-yard scoring pass two minutes before Doyle's TD to give the Vikings a short-lived 14-10 lead.

The Banyard TD came shortly after Vikings guard Seth Olsen was taken off the field on a stretcher.  Olsen appeared to hit his head on the knee of a Titans player while blocking, snapping his head back a bit.  Olsen was strapped to a board before being wheeled off on the stretcher, but did give a thumbs up to the crowd. The Vikings said Olsen had a neck injury.

Cornerback Bobby Felder also left the game because of an ankle injury late in the third quarter.  Felder is in a battle with Sherels to make the team at both cornerback and punt returner.

The Titans scored in the first half on a 28-yard field goal by Bironas and a 17-yard pass from backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to rookie Justin Hunter. The Vikings' first touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Matt Asiata, who had eight carries for 32 yards in the opening drive.

The Vikings' offensive and defensive starters did not play.  They wore their uniforms, but did not bring their helmets or shoulder pads.

The team must cut its roster from 75 to 53 by Saturday at 5 p.m. The regular season opens at Detroit on Sept. 8.

Jared Allen excited about Vikings' d-line depth, still not eager for rotation

Posted by: Updated: August 6, 2013 - 1:18 PM
Jared Allen has one predominant wish for Friday’s preseason opener against Houston at Mall of America Field.
 
“I’m hoping I’m not playing. I can have a day off,” Allen said.
 
In August, that’s status quo for the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end. But once September rolls around, Allen continues to make it clear he has little desire to come off the field unless absolutely necessary. So while chatter continues to swirl about the Vikings’ defensive line depth and the impressive rotation that might blossom because of it, Allen hopes all the in-and-out switching occurs elsewhere.
 
“For six years I’ve been facing this question: Am I rotating?” Allen said. “And I think I’ve won the battle most of the time. So we’ll see.”
 
In five seasons with the Vikings, Allen has averaged 15 sacks. Coming off a 2012 season in which he was slowed by injuries to his left shoulder and right knee, Allen feels refreshed and is eager to return to top form. So maybe Everson Griffen, whom the coaching staff believes has earned more playing time, will need to find his openings at left end behind Brian Robison or inside as a nickel rusher in pass situations.
 
“That’ll be up to the coaches to make that decision and guys to handle it how they handle it,” Allen said. “I think we have an ability to fill in and do some things pass rush-wise that are pretty special.”
 
Allen said the first Vikings’ defense he played on alongside Kevin Williams, Pat Williams and Ray Edwards was special. But this unit, he believes, has the potential to be the best he’s ever been a part of because of all the quality depth. At present, Griffen, Sharrif Floyd, Fred Evans and Lawrence Jackson are all back-ups.
 
“This is how good teams stay good and develop,” Allen said. “I always look at the Steelers. They seem to continue to create new guys in their system. And our defensive line in Minnesota has always been kind of a staple."
 
The Vikings’ depth up front should force opposing offenses into a “pick your poison” scenario, creating favorable one-on-one opportunities.
 
“You can’t focus on one person on this defensive line. I think everybody along that line is capable of making an impact on the game. That’s where our advantage is. So as far as who’s going to rush where, what, why, how, that to me isn’t a big thing. The advantage is the mismatches we can create when offenses choose to take one person away. And now another guy has to win. And we have the ability to.”
 
Still, Allen hopes the rotation concept on the d-line doesn’t become a rhythm disrupter.
 
“When you rotate too many people, if I don’t know where you’re going to be, I can’t rush the way I want to rush,” Allen said. “Half the time you’ll get a sack, because you’re playing off of somebody. For example, I know within the first couple steps where Kevin is going to be. So I can adjust my rush accordingly. … That’s the feel you get and that’s the complications you get when you put too many people in. And that’s where I think guys say I need this rhythm. I need to know where people are at.”

Leslie Frazier on Sharrif Floyd: Perseverance paid off

Posted by: Updated: July 20, 2013 - 12:24 PM

With Vikings training camp just around the corner, we’ll kick off our extensive camp preview coverage with Sunday’s in-depth profile of Sharrif Floyd, the organization’s top pick this year and expected to have an immediate impact at defensive tackle. Floyd seems to be a perfect fit both in the Vikings’ defensive scheme and in the locker room. And as we detail in our Sunday story, his path to the NFL has been anything but ordinary, requiring great perseverance and resilience to overcome a rough childhood in Philadelphia. (Stay tuned for that piece.)

But now that Floyd has arrived in Minnesota, he’s ready to start establishing himself as a force. Recently, we had a chance to pick head coach Leslie Frazier’s brain on Floyd’s arrival. Here are some of the more notable thoughts Frazier shared. 

On the skill set Floyd brings to the table and why he’s a great fit at under tackle in the Vikings’ defense …
“I like his athleticism. That really jumps out at you when you’re watching tape. His quickness for a big man his size, his agility to be able to get off of blocks, get up the field, change directions is amazing. All the things we kind of look for in that position are there. But heading into the draft, I just didn’t think that when we were getting to pick he’d be around. Everybody is always looking for big guys. Especially teams that play the way we do in the 4-3. So I was surprised that we got him. And I think he’s going to be a pleasant surprise for us on the field as well. … His agility, his quickness, his strength and then the fact that he played multiple positions at Florida. All of those things were attractive. And when we got done grading everything, we talked about how we would stack the guys – who’s No. 1, who’s 2, who’s 3? And when I was going through it with our d-line coach [Brendan Daly], we all said the way we stack it we’re not going to have a shot at Sharrif Floyd. And yet lo and behold, we’re watching that draft and here he comes, coming our way. It was just ‘Wow.’ … I can’t remember what pick Dallas had [18th]. But I knew their coaches run a similar style to us and they were picking so close to where we were in the draft. And when he got past Dallas, then I started saying, ‘Whoa. This is a real possibility.’ Sure enough, it happened.”
 
On what’s most impressive about Floyd’s humility and ambition after all he endured growing up …
“It was like he was forced to raise himself. In the inner-city. The odds just aren’t in your favor. To be where he is today? There’s a special quality there for him to be able to take care of himself, make good decisions, wind up with the right people around. That still resonates with me. Because there are so many stories that go the other way. Sad stories. … He has an amazing quality. And myself and the staff have talked about it. A lot of times when people come up the way Sharrif did, they tend to veer off and drift in a different direction. But those who don’t, a lot of times they’re the ones who end up achieving great things. The ones who end up staying on that right path. He seems to be that type of person. He did stay away from certain things. You wonder how he was able to. But he’s the one who can achieve potential greatness because he’s seen a lot of things but made some good choices along the way.”
 
On the biggest transition for Floyd as he enters the NFL …
“For him the next greatest challenges will always be off the field. What you do in this building, in your preparation with the coaches and your teammates, it’s hard to mess that up when you’re as talented and driven as he is. But when you leave this building, there are so many things that come at you. And as much as I could try to prepare him for it by talking to him, he needs to know, you always need to keep making those right decisions. When you go back through Philadelphia, when you walk through the neighborhood, when you’re up in your hotel room, that part of the transition for all young guys – not just Sharrif – is still the biggest part of this transition. … He’ll find out quickly that he can fit in here talent-wise with the other players. But now when you get that idle time that you might not have had in college, what do you do? To me, that’s always the challenge. But he seems to be very mature in that way. He’s really focused on trying to do the right things. And I’m sure that’s because of his background and how he came through.”

 

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