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.
New Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner is hoping the team can get a dynamic young quarterback, but still pictures running back Adrian Peterson as the key to the Vikings offense.
“We want to make big plays, we want to be an explosive offense, and we want to run the ball,” Turner said today at Winter Park.
The new Vikings coaching staff was officially named today by new coach Mike Zimmer. Turner and defensive coordinator George Edwards fielded questions from the media.
Turner, a head coach for 15 NFL seasons, with three different teams, was Cleveland offensive coordinator last season.
When Turner was approached about taking the job by Zimmer, Turner said his decision was made when, “I looked at the roster, I looked at the offensive side of the ball. I think this is a group that can be real good, and I think we can be good real fast.”
Turner said the Vikings’ quarterback situation is “a process we got through, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Matt Cassel is opting out of his contract with the Vikings, which would leave Christian Ponder as the only QB on the roster as free agency begins March 8. Turner, however, said the door isn't closed on Cassel, and he also had nice things to say about Ponder.
Turner pointed to the success Seattle had after taking QB Russell Wilson in the third round.
“When you have the No. 1 defense in the league, it’s easier to play quarterback,” Turner said. “Everyone is in agreement to adding a young quarterback to the organization, so it’s just a matter of going out and getting him.”
Turner, who was coaching San Diego when Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record of 296 yards as a rookie, said he has talked to Peterson.
“He understands the biggest thing to me is we are trying to win,” Turner said. “And he’s at the point in his career where he wants to make the playoffs and have some success in the playoffs and whatever it takes for us is what he wants to do.”
Edwards, who has been offensive coordinator for Washington and Buffalo, was linebackers coach in Miami last season.
“We have some good young talent that we can come in and develop,” said Edwards. “We don’t think we’re that far off.”
The Vikings gave up the most points of any NFL team last season, and are expected to undergo a lot of defensive changes.
“We can’t change everything schematically, but we want to put people in the right positions,” Edwards said.
He said he hadn’t done much evaluating of players, adding “we’re really just getting started here.”
If you think there’s a chance the Vikings might trade running back Adrian Peterson, general manager Rick Spielman rejected the hypothetical this week.
“Adrian’s not going anywhere,” Spielman said on Pro Football Talk. “We’ve got him under contract. He’s the face of our franchise. He is a blue chip player, and we have a new coaching staff coming in place and very excited about what’s coming ahead for us.”
Of course, Spielman said those exact words about former head coach Leslie Frazier during the season. He also said he had "no intent" of a trade involving former wide receiver Percy Harvin, who will play in the Super Bowl for the Seahawks.
Peterson is expected to make a full recovery in six week from groin surgery on Thursday to repair the adductor muscle. He’s had a surgical operation in each of the last three offseasons now, including ACL and MCL surgery in 2011 and hernia surgery last year.
“I never have any doubts in Adrian and this one was a minor procedure that it was bothering some but this is something that he’ll fully recover from,” Spielman said. “You never count Adrian out because he always has a chip on his shoulder, he always wants to prove that he’s the best in the business and I have no doubt that he will do that this offseason as well.”
Spielman was at the Senior Bowl this week but difficult to spot along with head coach Mike Zimmer. They’ve been working to piece together Zimmer’s staff, which Spielman hopes will all work their way to Winter Park next week.
“Our number one objective is to have those new coaches evaluate our team and our talent and see if they see the same things that we’ve seen where our holes are, then start to put the pieces in place on the needs that you have to fill,” Spielman said.
Spielman worked with offensive coordinator Norv Turner in Miami from 2002-03 and said his previous experience as a head coach will be great for Zimmer in his first head coaching gig. Spielman touched on the quarterback situation and said he’s going to depend on Turner’s expertise to guide the franchise in that position.
“We have to determine if we do have that guy on our roster but also which direction we go in the draft too if we do go in the draft,” Spielman said. “I think as this unfolds, you’re going to see that there is going to be some depth at the quarterback position in this draft. It’s going to give you some flexibility where, and it’s too early in the process to tell, but potentially what you do with our eighth overall pick and a lot of that will be determined as we go down the road here.”
The Vikings announced that running back Adrian Peterson had groin surgery today and is expected to make a full recovery in about six weeks.
Here's the statement from the team:
Eden Prairie, MN (January 23, 2014) – Adrian Peterson had surgery today with Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Meyers was able to successfully repair Adrian’s adductor muscle while also doing a compartmental release. Adrian is expected to make a full recovery in approximately 6 weeks.
Peterson missed two of the Vikings' final three games because of groin and foot injuries. He recovered well enough from the foot injury to play at Cincinnati is Week 16. But with his groin bothering him and the Vikings hopelessly behind, Peterson took a seat after his 11th carry early in the third quarter.
Peterson, who had already pulled out of the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career, was bothered by the groin injury through most of the second half of the 2013 season. It clearly affected him on Nov. 17 at Seattle, when he rushed for only 65 yards on 21 carries (3.1) in a 41-20 loss to the Seahawks.
Peterson, who will be 29 in March, has had surgeries in each of the past three offseasons. He had the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments repaired in his left knee after the 2011 season. Then, after rushing for 2,097 yards during his league MVP season in 2012, he had hernia surgery performed by Meyers a year ago.
Peterson lost his rushing title, but still finished with 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns on 279 carries (4.5). And even as he battled the groin injury, Peterson had a combined 67 carries for 357 yards in back-to-back overtime games against the Packers and Bears in late November and early December.
Peterson's seven-year, $96 million contract runs through 2017.
Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson won’t be snubbed from the Pro Bowl after all.
Patterson has been named as a replacement to the event, replacing Steelers wideout Antonio Brown as a return specialist. Brown was selected as both a wide reciever and return specialist, but he will participate as a receiver because he had more votes than Patterson.
Thanks to all the #flashyfans Vikings will be represented at 2014 ProBowl. My rookie year just got better!— cordarrelle (@ceeflashpee84) January 3, 2014
He's the seventh rookie in franchise history to be selected to the Pro Bowl along with Chuck Foreman, Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Blair Walsh and Matt Kalil
Patterson became the first player in NFL history to record four receiving, three rushing and two kick return touchdowns in a season. He finished with 469 receiving yards and 158 rushing yards.
The rookie also won the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Month honors in December on Thursday. He will join running back Adrian Peterson as the only Vikings selected to the Pro Bowl.
The teams won’t be set until Jan. 22 when Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders select their squads.
The Vikings have a 7-0 lead at halftime over the Lions in the finale game at the Metrodome. The Vikings have outgained the Lions 235-56
The good: Cordarrelle Patterson’s only season in the Metrodome has created for some memorable plays. The latest from the wide receiver: a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. It’s the longest touchdown run for a wide receiver in franchise history.
It’s Patterson’s third rushing touchdown this season, breaking Percy Harvin’s single-season record for a wide receiver.
Defensive end Jared Allen also recorded a sack in the first half to give him 10.5 this season. He’s recorded double digit sack totals for seven straight seasons now and sits alone for 13th all-time with 127.5 sacks.
The bad: Allen also took a snap on offense and missed a shot at a touchdown. Everyone knew Allen would likely get the ball once he was announced as an eligible receiver, but he was still wide open on the play action pass. Quarterback Matt Cassel rolled out of the pocket and missed Allen badly, nailing a photographer behind the end zone. Cassel threw an interception two plays later.
The ugly: While the Metrodome is closing, this game has the feel of two teams eliminated from the playoffs with coaches on the hot seat. Some may say it’s a fitting way to say goodbye, but it surely isn’t pretty to watch.
A good example: the Lions had the fourth best run defense in the NFL entering this game. Running back Matt Asiata, who started for the injured Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, has nine carries for 57 yards.
Need another one? Both teams have punted nine times.
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