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.
Here is the Star Tribune's story from Monday with news that the Metrodome roof is expected to be inflated this week.
A group of Vikings officials, including owner/president Mark Wilf, toured the Metrodome on Tuesday morning to inspect the progress made in fixing the roof. Wilf talked about the Dome and several other subjects in an interview with KFAN after his tour.
"I think it looks great," Wilf said. "We did just walk through and I'm happy to see that the roof inflation is ahead of schedule and the Commission [Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission] tells us the roof will be inflated sometime this week. So we're very thankful to the Commission and to all the workers who have worked so hard on this. We're excited we're going to have a place for our fans to watch Vikings football this year."
Wilf also was asked about the Arden Hills stadium proposal, but he reiterated that any stadium talk or movement is on hold during the state shutdown.
"It's coming along well but of course we're very mindful and respectful of what's going on with the budget situation with the state," Wilf said. "We're always said that the stadium is not going to come before a budget solution. We're in a good position to be part of a special session. We look forward to being there and we have great partners with the governor, the Legislature and Ramsey County. We're hopeful but obviously we know that the budget comes first and the state comes first."
Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development, made an appearance on PFT Live on Friday and provided an interesting detail regarding the team's quest to get a new stadium.
Bagley said the team had to get help from the league in finding a preseason opponent that would agree to play at the Metrodome, which is having its roof repaired after its collapse in December.
"We couldn’t even get a preseason game scheduled this year,” Bagley told host Mike Florio. “We could not get a partner and the league had to step in and help us get a preseason game scheduled because of that facility. . . . [T]he facility is no longer viable and we’ve got to resolve the issue.”
Here is the latest update on the stadium bill proposal that was introduced on Friday.
NEW ORLEANS -- The labor situation might be the big focus of the NFL meetings, but there also is the matter of one significant rule change that could be approved by the owners over the next two days.
The league's competition committee is proposing altering the rules for kickoffs. Done largely because of injury concerns, kickoffs would be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35; only the kicker would be able to line up more than 5 yards from the ball; touchbacks would place the ball on the 25 instead of the 20; and the wedge block, including the two-man wedge, would be eliminated.
This would be bad news for elite kickoff returners -- this includes the Vikings' Percy Harvin -- and clearly would alter strategy to a certain degree.
"There will be a lot of discussion over the next couple days about it, and I’m anxious to hear the competition committee’s argument for it, as well as what myself and other coaches will have to say for it or against it," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "So, it’ll be a lot of discussion. I know special teams coaches are wondering. It would definitely change the NFL as we know it. It would have a major impact on special teams -- in particular one of the most exciting plays in pro football, the kickoff return. Some weeks you’d be glad, because it’s not available when you play [Chicago's Devin] Hester or somebody."
Asked how he would balance his thinking when it comes to helping decide how the Vikings should vote, Frazier said: "You want to think about what’s best for the game as a whole. I think that’s how I would approach it, and I think that’s how our organization would approach it -- what’s best for the game."
In order to pass, the proposal will need to get at least 24 yes votes from the 32 owners. Zygi Wilf will cast the Vikings vote.
Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel, said Sunday the matter would be discussed internally.
The Vikings entered the 2010 season with all 22 starters and their three specialists back from the previous season. Several players -- Sidney Rice, Cedric Griffin -- had injury issues in camp, but the team expected them to be on the field at some point.
That continuity won't be the case this season. With 19 potential free agents and an older roster, Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman has made it clear the roster will look significantly different and much younger next season.
Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman gave an update Tuesday on the team's preparations for the scouting combine, draft and free agency (assuming it takes place at some point after a new CBA is finalized).
Spielman said one of the initial steps was for the personnel department and coaching staff to evaluate the current roster as a whole, not just the 19 potential restricted and unrestricted free agents.
Spielman said it was interesting and helpful to hear different opinions and perspective from the new assistant coaches hired by Leslie Frazier.
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