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.
Vikings guard Josh Samuda suffered a gruesome ankle injury during today’s voluntary offseason workout. The 25-year-old broke his fibula and dislocated his right ankle, according to a league source. He could also have ligament damage.
He will undergo surgery Wednesday morning. Doctors will find out the full extent of the injury then.
Samuda was participating in a non-contact drill in which one player chased another in a tight circle. He twisted his ankle, collapsed on the turf and clutched his leg, obviously in a great deal of pain. After a few minutes, he was helped off the field and taken into the trainer's room.
The workout was open to the media, and an image of Samuda’s ankle quickly went viral.
Samuda signed a reserve/future contract with the Vikings in January. He played 16 games for the Miami Dolphins in 2012 after signing as a rookie free agent out of Massachusetts. He did not play in 2013 after the Dolphins waived him before the start of the season.
In other news, the Vikings signed tight end Allen Reisner, who played for them in 2011 and 2012.
Reisner, 25, spent his first two seasons with the Vikings after they signed him as a rookie free agent out of Iowa. He played 10 games over two seasons, making two catches for 28 yards. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed him off the Vikings' practice squad late in the 2012 season and he played five games for them in 2013, making three starts and catching five passes for 40 yards.
The Vikings also worked out Towson running back Terrance West today, according to a league source. West, 23, set the Div. I FCS single-season rushing record in 2013 with 2,519 yards.
Kyle Rudolph is entering the final year of his rookie contract and he would like to stick around beyond 2014, but he said today that the Vikings have not approached him about an extension.
“I've really enjoyed my time here, from the top down, in our organization,” said Rudolph, who was participating in the team’s volunteer offseason workout program. “I think we have the best owners in football. They're willing to do anything for us to win. Everybody in the front office, the new staff, I really like the direction this team is going in. I'm excited to be a part of that future."
Rudolph is also excited about the present. The left foot he fractured during the season has been fully healed for about two months now and he has been studying tape of the Cleveland Browns from last season so he can get a feel for how he will be utilized in Norv Turner’s new offense.
After going to the Pro Bowl in 2012, Rudolph was limited to just eight games in 2013. He caught 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns before injuring his foot in early November.
Rudolph said that if and when the Vikings want to open negotiations for a new deal, he will listen.
"That's completely up to them,” the 24-year-old said. “Obviously, I would love to be here for a while, but that's something you'd have to ask them. It's all on their terms, obviously."
Former Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams could be close to extending his NFL career as a New York Giant.
Williams, who turns 34 in August, flew to Newark, N.J., from Atlanta this afternoon. He had dinner with Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn and other Giants defensive coaches tonight and will meet with head coach Tom Coughlin and members of the Giants’ front office on Tuesday.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Williams said. “I played 11 years in Minnesota. It didn’t work out there and this is my first visit with another team. I’m not sure how to feel. It’s all new to me.”
Williams was the Vikings’ first-round draft pick in 2003. A five-time All-Pro pick and six-time Pro Bowl selection, Williams has missed only five games, including just three because of injuries. He had 60 sacks, five interceptions and seven forced fumbles as a Viking.
But Williams never was in the plans for new head coach Mike Zimmer. Williams said he accepted that as part of the business of the NFL, but also thinks he still has something left to give to the NFL.
“I knew eventually a team would reach out and show interest,” Williams said. “But I wasn’t worried about it. Either way, whether something works out [Tuesday] or doesn’t work out and I retire, I’m comfortable with that. I’m not a guy who’s worried about going home and leaving football behind. Football isn’t everything.”
Ironically, the Giants’ need at defensive tackle stems in part from the Vikings signing Giants nose tackle Linval Joseph early on in free agency. That left an opening inside next to former Packer Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Giants via free agency last year.
“I had a good visit [Monday night],” Williams said. “It’s different. That’s for sure. But I would like to keep playing, so we’ll see how it goes [Tuesday].”
The Vikings “Top 30” event is approaching on Wednesday and Thursday and it appears there will be plenty of linebackers at Winter Park.
Among those previously reported include UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Louisville linebacker Preston Brown. Now Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack is scheduled to be in attendance, according to NFL.com. Boise State defensive end/linebacker Demarcus Lawrence and North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner will also attend, according to two NFL sources.
It’s unlikely that Mack would be available with the Vikings’ eighth overall pick, but the outside linebacker is a prospect that could start opposite to Chad Greenway and immediately fill a need. Listed at 6-3 and 251 pounds at the NFL Combine, Mack was a second-team All-American last year and a first-team All-MAC selection with 100 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions and five forced fumbles.
Lawrence, listed at 6-3 and 251 pounds at the Combine, is the fifth best outside linebacker according to ESPN’s Todd McShay and the eighth best defensive end by ESPN’s Mel Kiper. Lawrence was a first-team All-Mountain West selection during his two seasons with Boise State (transferred from Butler Community College). Lawrence was also suspended three times in those two seasons for violating team rules.
“I think I've matured,” Lawrence said at the Combine. “Right now I feel that really I've grown up a lot on and off the field. It's really not a problem. I feel like I became a better man, not just for myself but for others.”
Turner is the first reported offensive lineman. The Shoreview, Minn. native started 56 of 57 career games at North Dakota State. The two-time AP FCS All-American measured at 6-5 and 315 pounds at the Combine and also participated at the Senior Bowl. His father, running back Maurice Turner, was drafted out of the 12th round by the Vikings in 1983.
Free-agent safety Kurt Coleman plans to sign with the Vikings, according to a league source.
Coleman, who played his first four NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, visited the Vikings on Thursday. The team offered him a contract, and he agreed to terms on a one-year deal today.
Coleman will be the seventh safety on the roster, and the Vikings return a pair of starting safeties in Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford. But with a new head coach in Mike Zimmer, players will start with a clean slate and will have to prove themselves this spring and summer. Plus, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound safety is the kind of reclamation project that Zimmer enjoyed taking on as a coordinator.
Coleman, 25, was drafted by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL draft. He started two games as a rookie and 27 games over his new two seasons. He picked off four passes in 2011 and made a career-high 93 tackles in 2012, which ranked second on the Eagles.
Last year, the Eagles hired a new head coach in Chip Kelly and they signed Patrick Chung, who replaced Coleman as a starter. Coleman played just 73 defensive snaps in 2013, the lowest total of his career, but he was a core contributor on special teams, making eight tackles in that phase.
Coleman made 170 tackles with the Eagles with seven interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles.
Coleman is an Ohio native who played college football at Ohio State. As a senior, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was named a first-team All-American by the Sporting News.
During spring practices in his freshman year at Ohio State, Coleman paralyzed teammate Tyson Gentry with a tackle after the wide receiver caught a pass on a curl route in front of him. Coleman considered quitting football after that, but Gentry reportedly convinced him to keep playing.
Eight months later, Coleman’s father, Ron, was diagnosed with breast cancer. His father has fought off the disease and they formed a foundation to help raise breast cancer awareness.
Philadelphia reporters say that Coleman was a high-character person in the Eagles locker room, and it never hurts to have that type of veteran competing for a role during training camp.
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