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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Posts about Chester Taylor

Vikings draft preview Part II: Running backs

Posted by: Updated: April 19, 2011 - 10:23 AM

Note: For the next eight weekdays, we’ll take an exclusive look at the Vikings’ draft. We’ll combine positions on some days in order to address as many areas as possible. Check for a new post each day through April 28.

The issues: The Vikings have several needs in this draft but running back isn’t one of them. Adrian Peterson is going to be looking for a rich contract extension when the lockout ends – his deal will void after 2011 – but it’s hard to believe the Vikings are going to let him walk. Toby Gerhart was taken in the second round last year and Lorenzo Booker was signed in December after playing in the UFL.

What they have: Peterson finished fifth in the NFL last season with 1,298 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in 15 games and also managed to eliminate his issues with fumbles. Peterson had 20 fumbles and lost 13 over his first three seasons but last year he fumbled only once.

Peterson’s rushing total was the lowest of his four-year career but he also caught 36 passes for 341 yards and was playing on a team that went 6-10, had issues on the offensive line and had a future Hall of Fame quarterback (Brett Favre) who was unable to capture the magic that he had displayed the previous season.

In other words, there were reasons for Peterson’s decline in rushing yards that were beyond his control.

The Vikings made a trade with the Houston Texans last April in order to get a higher second-round pick so they could select Gerhart, who had been the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2009. Minnesota sent the 62nd pick (second round) and 93rd pick (third round) to the Texans for the 51st selection.

The Vikings wanted Gerhart to replace Chester Taylor, who had been an extremely reliable backup behind Peterson but left after the 2009 season to sign as a free agent with the Chicago Bears.

Gerhart, 6-feet, 231 pounds, got off to a rough start as veterans went especially hard at him during training camp, but he seemed to gain some measure of confidence as the season progressed and finished second on the team with 322 yards rushing on 81 carries (a 4.0 average) in 15 games with a touchdown. He even started a game in late December at TCF Bank Stadium when Peterson sat out against Chicago because of a thigh injury.

Booker did not have a rushing attempt after signing through the 2011 season, but he did catch five passes for 32 yards and is likely to stick as the third running back. Booker also can return kicks.

What they need: Not much unless they feel they can get a better player than Booker.

Albert Young was the Vikings’ third running back for much of last season, but the team did not tender him a contract offer just before the lockout started, meaning he will be free to sign elsewhere when the work stoppage ends.

Even if the Vikings feel that they will be unable to sign Peterson after the 2011 season, it’s unlikely they would begin addressing that issue immediately. If anything, Gerhart will be the guy in waiting and he’s already on the roster.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Gerhart get more playing time because he has a year of experience and in the long term he’s probably going to be a better blocker than Peterson.

There is a possibility the Vikings could look to address the fullback position. Naufahu Tahi did not receive a tender offer and is free to sign elsewhere when things get back to normal. It's unclear if the Vikings will try to keep him or if they will turn the job over to Ryan D'Imperio.

D'Imperio, a seventh-round pick in 2010, was a linebacker at Rutgers but the Vikings converted him to fullback.

Conclusion: This running back draft class isn’t that impressive – there are some who don’t think a RB will go in the first round -- and given the Vikings many needs at other spots it seems highly unlikely they will take a player at this position. Odds would seem better they select a fullback, but even that is probably a long shot.

Vikings receive two extra draft picks

Posted by: Updated: March 25, 2011 - 4:57 PM

The Vikings learned today that they will receive compensatory picks in the sixth and seventh rounds of the NFL draft this April. The picks were awarded to the Vikings as compensation for losing running back Chester Taylor to Chicago and offensive lineman Artis Hicks to Washington in free agency last spring.

The sixth-round pick will be the 200th selection overall and the seventh-rounder will be the 235th selection. The compensatory picks can't be traded and give the Vikings nine picks in the April 28-30 draft. Minnesota will draft 12th overall and also has picks in the second and fourth rounds and two each in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.

The Vikings were one of seven teams to get two compensatory picks. Carolina received three.

A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2011 NFL Draft have been awarded to 23 teams, the NFL announced today. 
Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.
The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. The 32 compensatory choices will supplement the 221 choices in the seven rounds of the draft.
The compensatory picks will be in the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost.
According to the NFL, compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula. 
Here is more from the league: Three clubs this year (Oakland, Seattle and New Orleans) will each receive a compensatory pick even though they did not suffer a net loss of compensatory free agents last year. Under the formula, the compensatory free agents lost by these clubs were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance).
Twenty-one compensatory picks were awarded to clubs based upon the compensatory pick formula. By rule, 11 additional choices were awarded at the end of the seventh round to bring the total number of compensatory selections to 32, equaling the number of NFL clubs. The 11 additional picks were awarded to Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Cleveland, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Dallas, Washington and Houston based upon the 2011 draft selection order.


Favre out for Monday; Webb will start

Posted by: Updated: December 18, 2010 - 2:38 PM

Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier made it official Saturday, saying Brett Favre is out for Monday night's game against Chicago and rookie Joe Webb will start at quarterback.

"Brett tried to do some things prior to practice and that shoulder is not, his arm is just not where it needs to be so he definitely won't participate on Monday night," Frazier said. Frazier acknowledged Favre can throw the ball but described the pain as "just too  excruciating right now," adding, "that’s what he has to get past.”

Frazier indicated that he has no plans to place Favre on injured reserve at this point despite the fact he continues to have pain in his shoulder when he tries to throw the ball. Frazier said the numbness that Favre has been feeling in his throwing hand is starting to go away some.

“I don’t know if we’d go in that direction [of putting Favre on IR] because it could change by Tuesday or even on Monday," Frazier said. "Some of it has subsided from a week ago, so he’s gradually getting better. Just not enough to where you could put him out there to play so next week may be a little bit different. So we just have to kind of gauge it.”
Frazier, meanwhile, said he is "really pleased with the progress," that Webb has made this week. "He really seems as if this whole thing is not too big for him and [I'm] really looking forward to watching him play on Monday night," Frazier said.
The Vikings are going to discuss promoting R.J. Archer from the practice squad to have a third quarterback behind Webb and newcomer Patrick Ramsey. :We want to have a viable option in an emergency situation so that’s something we’ll talk about [today]," Frazier said.
Peterson improving
Running back Adrian Peterson, who practiced Saturday after sitting out Thursday and Friday because of a thigh bruise, is better, according to Frazier. "He was able to go through some things so that was good to see," Frazier said.
Peterson was listed as questionable on the Vikings injury report Saturday, giving him a 50 percent chance of playing.
Hutchinson out

Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson has been ruled out for Monday, meaning he will miss a third consecutive game because of a broken right thumb.

It's looking more and more like Hutchinson's season could be finished. Asked if the veteran is a candidate to be put on injured reserve, Frazier said: “We’ve got to take a look at that with the number of games we’ve got left. So that’s something we’ll have to discuss.”

Some of the swelling Hutchinson experienced has subsided but with only three games left time might be running out. "There's still more [swelling] we’d like to see removed and also some of the pain he has right now," Frazier said. "Just to see if that will change. We’re going to discuss it again when I leave this meeting. What’s the best approach going forward.”

Safety Tyrell Johnson (knee) also is out for this game. Defensive end Ray Edwards (ankle) was able to do some work on Saturday and might return Monday after missing two games. He is listed as questionable, as is safety Jamarca Sanford (concussion).
Webb (hamstring) and cornerback Asher Allen (ankle) are listed as probable, meaning they will play.
Vikings look at four
The Vikings worked out four CFL players on Saturday: Wide receiver Andy Fantuz (Saskatchewan); defensive lineman Demonte Bolden (Hamilton); defensive end Phillip Hunt (Winnipeg) and wide receiver S.J. Green (Montreal).

The NFL and CFL have an agreement that players from Canada can't play for an NFL team in the same season so the workouts were conducted with an eye toward 2011. Check out this catch by Green.


  • Bears linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) was limited in practice Saturday and is listed as questionable. Cornerback Charles Tillman (foot) and running back Chester Taylor (knee) were taken off the report.


Peterson held out as precaution

Posted by: Updated: December 17, 2010 - 3:27 PM

Adrian Peterson missed a second consecutive day of practice Friday, but interim coach Leslie Frazier said the move is just "precautionary" and that it's expected the running back will play on Monday night against Chicago.

Peterson is listed with ankle and knee injuries but Frazier said the real issue is that Peterson is suffering from a thigh bruise after his collision with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson last Monday in the Vikings' loss against the New York Giants.

"It's pretty sore, so we just need another day of rest," Frazier said. "We know Adrian, so he'll be fine."

Quarterback Brett Favre, who is suffering from numbness in his throwing hand and is listed with chest, ankle and right shoulder issues, hasn't been ruled out for Monday, despite the fact it's appearing more and more like his season is over. Favre did not practice again today.
"Well, we’ll see how he does tomorrow," Frazier said. "We’ve got to see if he can do anything, and if he can’t, then yeah, more than likely [he will be ruled out for Monday]."
Also sitting out for the Vikings on Friday were guard Steve Hutchinson (thumb) and safeties Tyrell Johnson (knee) and Jamarca Sanford (concussion). Defensive end Ray Edwards (ankle) was limited. Edwards has missed the past two games. Cornerback Asher Allen (ankle) and quarterback Joe Webb (hamstring) continue to be listed on the injury report but have not missed any practice time this week.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin went through a second consecutive day of practice without incident.
Checking it out

The Vikings will get their first look at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday when they conduct their walk-through in the facility. One of the keys will be for players to get an idea of the type of traction they might have. The university offered up a very optimistic press release today on the state of the field.

"That’s very important," interim coach Leslie Frazier said of the footing. "That’s one of the reasons we want to be able to get on that surface so our guys can kind of have a feel for what’s required from a shoe standpoint and also just to get a little bit a lay of the land. Just to see what the atmosphere is like and get a feel for how the stadium is laid out. So that should be good for us.”


  • Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman (foot) did not miss any practice time today after sitting out Thursday. Running back Chester Taylor (knee) and linebacker Pisa Tinoiamoa (knee) were limited Thursday but practiced in full on Friday.

Vikings sign Booker; Young goes on IR

Posted by: Updated: December 7, 2010 - 4:44 PM
The Vikings officially announced the signing of running back Lorenzo Booker on Tuesday afternoon and cleared a spot for him on the 53-man roster by making a roster move with running back Albert Young. Young was waived/injured by the Vikings, meaning he will go on the injured reserve list once he clears waivers. 
Booker, a third-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007, spent this season with Hartford of the United Football League. The move came a few weeks after the Vikings put Booker through a workout and days after the UFL, lowered its transfer fee for players under contract from $150,000 to $25,000.
Coach Leslie Frazier said Monday that he is hoping Booker can help the Vikings as a third-down back. Booker was traded by the Dolphins to the Eagles in 2008 for a fourth-round pick in that year's draft and rushed  for 53 yards on 20 carries. The Eagles waived him in September 2009.
Booker led the UFL at 5.4 yards per carry this past season and finished fourth with 410 rushing yards and was fifth overall with 650 all-purpose yards in seven games. He made news by boycotting the team's final game last month to protest the league's higher transfer fee.
Young was signed by the Vikings as a rookie free agent out of Iowa in 2008 and spent that season on the practice squad. He played in seven games last season, rushing for 53 yards on 12 carries. With Chester Taylor having signed as a free agent with Chicago last March, there was some thought that Young could compete with rookie Toby Gerhart for the third-down role.
But Young played in only his third game of the season on Sunday and tied his career-high with 10 carries for 27 yards as Adrian Peterson and Gerhart were rested for much of the fourth quarter with the Vikings having a big lead on Buffalo. Young gained 29 yards on 13 rushing attempts this season and caught two passes for 11 yards.
The Vikings also made a move on their practice squad, waiving recently signed center Adrian Martinez and signing quarterback R.J. Archer. Archer was with the Vikings during their offseason program. Adding a quarterback to the practice squad could have been done because Brett Favre is dealing with a sprained throwing shoulder and Joe Webb, the team's third quarterback, has a pulled hamstring.
Archer, who played college football at William & Mary, was waived by the Vikings in late June. The move was made in part because the Vikings decided to keep Webb at quarterback and not convert him to wide receiver. Archer, meanwhile, had spent his first two seasons in college at receiver before being converted back to quarterback as a junior in 2008.
A native of Charlottesville, Va., Archer was a three-year starter at quarterback in high school but 2009 marked his only full one as a starter at the position in college. Archer ended the season ranked second in the Colonial Athletic Association with 198.4 passing yards per game and was named second-team all-conference.
One of his best performances came at second-ranked Villanova when he threw for 354 yards and tied a single-game school record with 35 completions. He finished the season having completed 261 of 433 passes for 2,778 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 255 yards (on 100 attempts) and five touchdowns.
He ran a 4.67 in the 40-yard dash during William & Mary's Pro Day this past March. Archer has spent this spring pitching for William & Mary's baseball team. Archer was a baseball standout in high school but did not play the sport in college until last season.



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