Staff Directory 10644686

Mark Craig

Reporter/Columnist | Vikings/NFL
Phone: 612-673-7011
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Mark Craig has covered college or pro football for 27 of his 31 years as a sports writer at the Canton (Ohio) Repository (1987-99) and Star Tribune. He is in his 24th season of covering the NFL. He is one of the 48 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.   

A native of Northeast Ohio, Craig covered the Cleveland Browns from 1991 until they left for Baltimore in 1995. When they returned as an expansion team in 1999, Craig left to cover Gophers football for the Star Tribune. He co-authored two books on the Browns and is the author of the Vikings book "100 Things Vikings Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."
Recent content from Mark Craig
Vikings rookie running back Alexander Mattison, running vs. the Redskins on Oct. 24, has 389 yards rushing on 79 carries.

Vikings more than satisfied with 1-2 punch of Cook, Mattison

Mike Zimmer was asked whether there was much drop off between Dalvin Cook, the best back in football, and Alexander Mattison, who ran the ball for a game-high 6.5-yard average vs. the Cowboys. Answer? "No."
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) scored a touchdown in the third quarter.

Cook's fourth-down touchdown affirms dominant running game

Instead of settling for an easy field goal and a 23-21 lead entering the fourth quarter, coach Mike Zimmer made the hard decision and was rewarded with a Dalvin Cook touchdown
Above, Cowboys defenders Robert Quinn (58) and Michael Bennett had Kirk Cousins on the move in the third quarter. Below, Vikings linebackers Anthony B

Five extra points: Cousins withstands pressure, Vikings corral Elliott

Kirk Cousins was pressured on eight of his 22 first-half dropbacks (36.3%), but he managed to complete passes on five of them for 53 yards and a couple of first downs.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen held his right hamstring as he walked of the field at Detroit on Oct. 20

Hamstrings leave Vikings hamstrung at receiver; Doctson 'ready to go'

In Wednesday's tale of two Purple hamstrings, Adam Thielen spent practice resting while fellow receiver Josh Doctson continued testing -- and said he'll be ready for Sunday night in Dallas.
Vikings rookie wide receiver Bisi Johnson caught a first-quarter touchdown pass against the Chiefs on Sunday. The NFC has nine teams with a winning re

No cause for panic: Vikings well in the mix as playoff race gets exciting

The NFC has nine teams with a winning record, and any one of them -- including the Vikings -- could advance to the Super Bowl.
Vikings punter Britton Colquitt

Britton Colquitt's shanked punt leads to Chiefs' winning drive

Five takeaways from Sunday's Vikings loss in Kansas City from NFL writer Mark Craig.
Minnesota Vikings punter Britton Colquitt.

Are you ready for Sunday's Colquitt Bowl?

The punting Colquitt brothers face each other Sunday when the Vikings travel to face the Chiefs. "When people ask [their Mom] who she's rooting for, she'll just smile and say, 'I'm rooting for fourth down!'"
Mike Zimmer and Andy Reid.

A clash of offensive and defensive masterminds: Reid vs. Zimmer

Mike Zimmer, 63, is the old-school but innovative defensive guy whose aggressive style impresses 61-year-old Andy Reid, who has built a reputation for the way his teams play on offense.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook rushed for 98 yards on 23 carries and scored the only touchdown against Washington.

Versatile Cook playing better now than Peterson

Dalvin Cook continues to shine in all facets of the game. After Thursday he has a league-leading 823 rushing yards and 1,116 yards from scrimmage.
Adrian Peterson at age 34 still is productive, gaining 307 yards rushing in 83 attempts for a 3.7yard average.

At 34, ex-Viking Peterson doesn't run like an old man

Adrian Peterson, who said Tuesday he is "for sure" playing Thursday on his nicked-up ankle when Washington visits the Vikings, is "looking like the same old Adrian that we all know," Redskins coach Bill Callahan said.
Former tight end Steve Jordan will enter the Vikings Ring of Honor on Thursday. The organization has put an emphasis on alumni relations.

Ex-Vikings say Wilfs' emphasis on alumni has changed franchise

Team alumni feel more welcome, more appreciated and more involved since Zygi and Mark Wilf bought the team in 2005. "I hadn't been back in 20 years," one former player said.
Vikings wide receiver Bisi Johnson celebrated his second quarter touchdown at Ford Field against the Lions.

Vikings' Five Extra Points: Vikings display plaground-style football

Five takeaways from Sunday's game from Vikings writer Mark Craig.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph talked with NFL official Clete Blakeman during a minicamp session in June.

Crisis of confidence: Culture of NFL officiating is the problem, ex-official says

Detroit, the Vikings' next opponent, is the latest victim of scrutinized officiating that has the league in turmoil.
Big plays are driving the Vikings offense when it has success this season.

A new shade of Moss: Vikings' average gain is looking SuperFreaky

The Vikings are averaging 6.3 yards per play through six games in 2019, good for third in the NFL and a reminder of the Randy Moss era of big plays.
Vikings rookie Alexander Mattison hurdled Eagles safety Rodney McLeod in the fourth quarter during a 35-yard run, his longest of the season.

Five takeaways from Sunday's Vikings-Eagles game

Here's what stood out Sunday afternoon to Star Tribune NFL and Vikings writer Mark Craig.
Dan Bailey (5), the creature of routine that he is despite a few hiccups as a Viking, occasionally gives a place-kick an extra long look through the u

Trusting the process: Bailey remains unfazed by hits or misses

Through highs and lows as Vikings kicker, Dan Bailey is still all about the routine. "There's nothing really too complicated about it," he said.
Two versatile NFL star running backs -- the Vikings' Dalvin Cook, left, and the Panthers' Christian McCaffrey -- have legitimate MVP dreams that stand

Vikings' Cook, Panthers' McCaffrey setting the pace for MVP seasons

Mark Craig's On the NFL: Workhorse running backs Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are on pace to easily exceed 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ran out of the pocket in the first quarter.

Five takeaways from Vikings-Giants game: Cousins cruises, Zimmer loses challenge

The Vikings got back to form with Sunday's win. Here's what stood out to reporter Mark Craig.
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter sacked New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones in the third quarter.

Vikings defense channels pent-up anger to smother Giants

Danielle Hunter tied Eric Kendricks with a team-high seven tackles while posting two key red-zone sacks that broke the Giants' will during a clock-grinding third quarter that yielded just three points.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has faced plenty of scrutiny through Week 4, but for NFL players and coaches, the only game that matters is the next

What's wrong with Cousins? Vikings have to find out fast

Kirk Cousins, the Vikings' $84 million quarterback, is getting nowhere trying to please everybody. "I would say he's scared of making a mistake," ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky said.
Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs

Vikings punish Diggs, playing status for Sunday is undetermined

Stefon Diggs practices Friday, but coach Mike Zimmer wouldn't commit to playing him against the Giants in New Jersey on Sunday. "We'll see," Zimmer said.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins reacted as he looked to the scoreboard from the sidelines late in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field.

Cousins says 'ignorance is bliss' as confidence called into question

If the Vikings are frustrated with what they're seeing and hearing in the media about Kirk Cousins' quarterback play, they'd be wise to avoid his standing in social media.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) reacted as he looked to the scoreboard from the sidelines late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 16-6 l

For the Vikings, embarrassing loss to the Bears is a thing of the past

Of the many rules in the NFL, the smartest and toughest one to obey might be the so-called "24-hour rule" of forgetting about your last game, no matter how good or bad you played.
Danielle Hunter of the Vikings tackled Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the first quarter Sunday. Trubisky left the game after injuring his left sh

Vikings forced early turnover, then 'I looked up and saw the flag'

Welcome to 2019. The Year of the Yellow Flag. Make a play, hold your breath and scan the field for laundry.
There was no end to Chase Daniel’s contribution on Sunday. In the first quarter the Bears quarterback prevented Harrison Smith from snagging a fumbl

Yes, that Chase Daniel: Bears backup QB has 22-for-30 day vs. Vikings

Five takeaways from Sunday's game at Soldier Field.
Dakota Dozier got to spike the ball after a preseason game touchdown for the Vikings.

With Kline out, Dakota Dozier takes over as Vikings right guard

This will be Dozier's second start in three games. He stepped in for injured left guard Pat Elflein in the Week 2 loss at Green Bay.
The Vikings brought back Marcus Sherels primarily as a punt returner, after now-injured Chad Beebe muffed three punts in the past two games.

Right where they left off: Sherels, Treadwell embrace return to Vikings

The return of Marcus Sherels and Laquon Treadwell created quite the juxtaposition of Purple-clad reunions at TCO Performance Center on Wednesday.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) threw under pressure from Oakland Raiders linebacker Kyle Wilber (58) in the third quarter.

Five extra points: Cousins' long throws were key to Vikings offense

Kirk Cousins threw only four passes for more than 20 yards, but three of them were important.
The 1969 Vikings defensive line -- Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Gary Larsen and Carl Eller -- was known as the Purple People Eaters. This photo was taken

Defensive line pays tribute to 'Purple People Eaters' with its play

Sunday's halftime celebration was nice, but the best tribute to the 1969 Vikings came early in the second quarter when a visiting quarterback got spooked by their 2019 counterparts.
The goal posts at Metropolitan Stadium were tipped at precarious angle as happy Vikings fans worked to bring them down following their 27-7 victory ov

Vikings won 1969 NFL Championship Game but never clutched hardware

The Ed Thorp Trophy never quite made it to Minnesota, the last NFL champion before the merger with the AFL.
Daniel Carlson missed a 35-yard field goal attempt in overtime as the Vikings tied the Packers on Sept. 16, 2018 in Green Bay.

After boot from Vikings, kicker Carlson rock solid for Raiders

After the bad day in Green Bay that led to his release last season, kicker Daniel Carlson returns to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday having done very well with his new team.
Some longtime football followers are suggesting the NFL is in danger of becoming unwatchable through its tsunami of yellow flags thrown and added upon

NFL in black and white: Game officials under the microscope

It's hard to imagine NFL officiating getting more frustrating than it was in Week 2, lending more credence to football followers who suggest the league is in danger of becoming unwatchable.
The Vikings’ Adam Thielen caught a 30-yard pass from Kirk Cousins while being defended by Jaire Alexander in the third quarter.

Five extra points: Vikings display clean - and messy - flashes vs. Packers

Mark Craig weighs in with his five takeaways from Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.
Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs caught a pass in the end zone for what looked to be a touchdown, but the play was nullified by an offensive pass interfe

'Can you tell me why we're stopping the game?' League call negates Vikings TD

After an apparent Stefon Diggs touchdown, Dalvin Cook was called for offensive pass interference following a long look at the replay.
Vikings special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf’s intensity occasionally gets dialed back by Mike Zimmer.

Maalouf's special-team style developed from many mentors

Vikings special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf has mixed lessons learned at five NFL stops — some of them hard.
New Packers coach Matt LaFleur, renowned for his offensive mind, had to rely on his defense to beat the Bears.

New Packers coach retools offense, will get first taste of border battle

The Vikings and Packers head into Sunday's game at Lambeau Field well aware they'll need other ways to win besides what got them through Week 1 unscathed.
Linval Joseph registered a sack of Falcons QB Matt Ryan, but was mostly his same old disruptive self at his defensive tackle position in the Vikings�

Five points from Vikings-Falcons game

1. Joseph returns as unique inside forceGive Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph an assist on Anthony Harris' second interception in Sunday's 28-12 win over the…
Minnesota Vikings’ Eric Wilson (50) blocked a punt by Atlanta Falcons punter Matt Bosher (5) in the first quarter.

Fresh plan produces first blocked punt since 2014

Coordinator Marwan Maalouf introduced the play Wednesday. Linebacker Eric Wilson completed it Sunday.
Antonio Brown never became the team player he told the Raiders he’d become. However, he found a taker in New England hours after the Raiders dropped

Raiders can blame no one but themselves for Antonio Brown fiasco

NFL writer Mark Craig says taking a flier on Antonio Brown and his baggage is a lose-lose for accountability
The NFL’s 100th season opens Thursday with the Packers and Bears at Soldier Field. Chicago was the site in 1932 when a disputed play sparked major r

As NFL turns 100, the record book gets rewritten yet again

When officials make (or don't make) a call, the league starts tweaking
To be successful on an outside zone run, quarterback Kirk Cousins (left) must read the safety. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) widens the defensive end. T

Zone blocking 101: Once the ball snaps, decisions and synchronization start

Zone blocking requires precise timing, technique. The intricacies are many and minute.
Coach Mike Zimmer on the aftermath if the Vikings won a Super Bowl: "We would probably have a huge party somewhere. Put tents all over these four damn

Flipping kickers, changing coaches, job security. The Zimmer interview

Sometimes decisions go sideways and the pressure to win is relentless, but coach Mike Zimmer stands by his record entering his sixth season leading the Vikings..
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer (right) and assistant coach/offensive consultant Gary Kubiak share a run-first philosophy in a pass-happy NFL.

Vikings coaching staff is of one accord in run-first philosophy

Testimonials from aides back Zimmer's old-school strategy.
Jim Langer in 1977.

Minnesotan, Hall of Fame football player Jim Langer dies at 71

Langer, who ended his 12-year career with the Vikings in 1980 and 1981, was a four-time first-team All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl winner.
Kaare Vedvik, center, was flanked by holder Chad Beebe and punter Matt Wile on Aug. 18 before the Vikings’ game against Seattle at U.S. Bank Stadium

Kicking, punting aren't the only problems for Vikings special teams

Coach Mike Zimmer put his young roster bubble position players on notice, telling them publicly that it was time to "get their rear ends in gear" on special teams.
Vikings defensive back Holton Hill watched from the bench in the fourth quarter Saturday. The second-year corner will be suspended for the season's fi

Can the Vikings really rely on cornerback Hill after suspensions?

The second-year cornerback will miss the season's first eight games because of drug suspensions, leaving his team scrambling to fill in behind him.
Vikings quarterback Kyle Sloter watched as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Paxton Lynch was being tended to on the turf late in Sunday’s preseason game

Sloter's strong preseason doesn't mean he'll become No. 2 quarterback

Kyle Sloter's quarterback rating is excellent in the preseason, but coach Mike Zimmer was quick to warn people not to read too much into the data.
Laquon Treadwell

Trying to salvage career, Treadwell calls himself an 'underdog'

Laquon Treadwell knows exactly where his career stands with NFL cutdown day looming just 11 days away. It's not in a good place.
Vikings running back Ameer Abdullah.

Vikings' Ameer Abdullah, noting job's unique issues, weighs new running back union

A proposed union would stand up for players whose stars shine brightly, but briefly.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen put on his helmet before practice. An NFL rule change insists all players' helmets be tested and certified jointly

Considering the alternatives, Vikings tackle helmet safety

Vikings players have a choice of 34 different helmet models that have been certified for use in the NFL. Players have a variety of reasons for their preferences.
Nate Wozniak with the Gophers in 2015.

Former 6-10 Gophers tight end Wozniak gets try at tackle with Vikings

One of the tallest — if not the tallest — Vikings in team history took his spot as the third-string left tackle during Sunday's practice at TCO Performance Center.
Shamar Stephen.

Vikings day at camp: Trade leads to silence

No one was permitted to comment on the trade with Baltimore until Monday.
Vikings wide receiver Olabisi Johnson, a seventh-round draft choice in contention to make the team, is working out at multiple positions during practi

Vikings' rookie receiver Johnson gets praise from Zimmer

Asked before practice about the many young receivers fighting for roster spots behind starters Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, Olabisi Johnson was the first one coach Mike Zimmer patted on the back.
In this Jan. 20 file photo, the Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for the Saints' Tommylee Lewis during the second half of the NFC

Saints want fairness, Vikings seek clarity of new expanded replay calls

In the wake of the egregious pass interference no-call in the NFC Championship Game, NFL owners voted 31-1 to expand replay reviews to include offensive and defensive pass interference calls and non-calls.
Minnesota Vikings Aviante Collins was look at by trainers during practice Thursday.

Vikings' tackle Collins carted off the field at practice with left leg injury

Offensive tackle Aviante Collins missed all of last season after surgery to repair a torn biceps.
Trae Waynes (26) covered Adam Thielen (19) during practice on Wednesday.

Is Waynes the fastest Viking? Players' debate can be long and loud

It's a matter the players love to argue and one that remains unsettled. But cornerback Trae Waynes made a pretty good case for himself in a fast-paced interview at training camp.
Vikings receiver Adam Thielen says that it's hard to pick a personal trainer. "There are so many guys out there … getting creative and doing a lot o

Working it out: Vikings balance personal trainers with Zimmer's concerns

How do the Vikings monitor all of the different personal trainers and encourage players not to stray too far from the team's training principles? Communication, and then some.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph reached out to catch a pass during practice on Friday.

Eager to relaunch: Vikings open full-squad workouts with clean slate

With 209 days to reflect, a chance to start over is welcomed by the Vikings after a lackluster ending to the 2018 season.
Vikings rookie cornerback Kris Boyd

Boyd could next man up on Vikings' depth chart after Hill's suspensions

With Holton Hill now suspended for the season's first eight games, the Vikings need another cornerback to step up and provide depth on the 53-man roster.
For just-signed Vikings rookie lineman Tiano Pupungatoa (middle, flanked by John Keenoy, left, and Storm Norton), dinner might mean wolfing down a cou

Vikings rookie lineman Pupungatoa sticks to a diet, but don't try it

Vikings rookie Tiano Pupungatoa, of Hastings, consumes roughly 5,000 calories a day to maintain playing weight.
Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa talk and share a laugh as they walk down the 17th fairway tied for the lead at -19. ALEX KORMANN ¥ alex.kormann@sta

3M Open benefits from investing in new wave of young golfers

Minnesota's first regular tour stop in half a century didn't need the world's No. 1 player, Brooks Koepka, to make it for a successful return. It was well served by the youthful golfers who battled for the lead all weekend.
Nick Taylor chipped the ball from the rough on the ninth hole Saturday. He made a bogey on the 3M Open’s toughest hole.

Despite hole-out eagle, hardest hole at TPC Twin Cities is 'definitely' No. 9

South African Dylan Frittelli, at 12 under, is three shots off the lead after getting a friendly roll.
A group of Tim Herron fans raised a “Lumpy’s lounge” sign on their bus that comes out to PGA Tour events occasionally to support the Wayzata nat

All aboard 'Lumpy's Bus Bash' with a busload of family and friends

Family and friends of Tim Herron rode to the 3M Open in style, even if they got there a little late for the Wayzata golfer's round.
Matthew Wolff, angling to be the Next Big Thing on the PGA Tour, sized up a putt on No. 9.

College champion can hit drives 300 yards and more

A sponsor's exemption to Matthew Wolff, the Oklahoma State Cowboy with the 2019 NCAA title belt, an ear-blasting driver and a PGA Tour dream that pushed him to turn pro last month after his sophomore season.
Brian Dwyer took no putt for granted in Monday’s qualifier for berths in the 3M Open. Dwyer shot 7-under 64 but needed three playoff holes to advanc

Dwyer goes low enough — barely — to make 3M Open field

Mark Craig's Golf Insider: Apple Valley native Brian Dwyer grabs the last 3M Open slot by shooting a 64 -- but not before he has to fret it wouldn't be good enough and go through the pressure of three sudden-death playoff holes.
Lauren Stephenson had a hard time dealing with the sand on the first hole on her way to a double bogey Sunday.

First hole at Hazeltine wrecks many scorecards

Hannah Green sighed after a save on what proved to be the course's hardest hole.
Hannah Green hits a tee shot on 16 during the third round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine

High risk, high reward at 16 after it's shortened for third round of Women's PGA

Hole 16 was shortened by 140 yards from the first two rounds and played as the third-easiest hole. It surrendered no eagles, but the 29 birdies matched the total from the first two rounds combined.
Sarah Burnham of Maple Grove, a former Michigan State standout, looked down the first fairway Thursday morning after striking the first shot of the KP

Minnesotan Burnham plays in front of family, friends at Hazeltine

The Maple Grove golfer realizes a dream after slipping into tournament by a mere $3.
LPGA rookie Elizabeth Szokol used a practice round Wednesday to experiment with ways to play Hazeltine’s difficult 16th hole.

Risk could pay $1 million reward to LPGA player with right skills, boldness

Side contest adds layer of pressure and temptation.
Only 30 years old, Inbee Park is already fourth all-time in LPGA career earnings at $14.9 million.

Inbee Park returns to Minnesota, where it all began for her

Inbee Park, seven-time major champion and LPGA Tour Hall of Famer, was a winless teenager the last time the world sent its finest women's golfers to Minnesota.
At 55, Laura Davies will be making her 125th start in a major come Thursday in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in

Davies impressed with what she sees at Hazeltine National

At 55, Laura Davies will be making her 125th start in a major come Thursday in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

LPGA Tour Hall of Famer Inbee Park's place in history

Park, who was 19 when she won the 2008 U.S. Women's Open at Interlachen in Edina, has seven wins and 28 top-10 finishes in the five majors in women's golf. Here's a closer look:
Jordan Taylor, who cut his teeth in passing drills in Denver with Peyton Manning, has a chance at a larger role with the Vikings.

Ex-Bronco Taylor seeking bigger role with Vikings

Look out for Jordan Taylor -- quarterback Kirk Cousins calls him "a diamond in the rough" -- as the Vikings continue searching for a reliable No. 3 receiver.
Stefon Diggs’ younger brother Mar’Sean (above left) is a 6-1, 199-pound safety who went undrafted out of UAB. In 26 games at UAB, Mar’Sean Diggs

Vikings give Diggs' younger brother a look at rookie camp

Mar'Sean Diggs might not be as fast as his brother Stefon, but the two share a lot of the same traits, including good hands.
Jake Browning ran the offense during Vikings rookie mini-camp Friday.

Vikings went the extra step to sign quarterback Browning

Jake Browning sounds awfully happy for a guy who set national high school and major college passing records only to be criticized for a…