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
Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) got his hands up for a Kirk Cousins pass on a failed two-point conversion late in Sunday night’s victory over t

Best defense in the NFC North? Not in Minnesota for now

For now, the current version of the Monsters of the Midway are showing it has the edge on defense over the Vikings. The Bears showed it over and over Sunday night.
The Chicago Bears' home field can often be a house of horrors when the playing surface gets worn-in.

Field of screams: Chicago's turf can be among the worst

There were or complaints after last week's Bears game at Soldier Field against the Lions. That's a rarity for mid- to late-season games on a field players routinely rate among the five worst in the league.
Dan Bailey

Bailey puts his best foot forward for Vikings

Undrafted out of Oklahoma State, Dan Bailey had a remarkably accurate kicking career with Dallas but was let go and is now in a career reboot with the Vikings.
Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara (20) celebrated his interception against the Lions with his teammates during the second half Sunday.

Bears' ability to create turnovers has Zimmer's attention

Chicago has a league-leading 16 turnovers this season, and the Bears also are tops in the NFL with 89 points scored off turnovers.
Mitch Trubisky and the Bears are 6-3 and lead the NFC North.

In high-scoring NFL, it's time for NFC North to stand up for itself

Inside the NFL: Entering a key game between the Vikings and the Bears, it's clear the North is a weak division.

Mark Craig's Week 11 NFL power rankings

The Titans jumped from 19th to sixth after beating the Patriots.
Mackensie Alexander brought down Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on Sunday, one of a team record 10 sacks for the Vikings.

Vikings pull off an NFL rarity: 10 sacks in a game

Even though it hasn't happened often, some familiar names — former Vikings quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham — have all shared the experience.

Mark Craig's Week 10 NFL Power Rankings

The Patriots remain at the top.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates with fans after a 70-yard run in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit

What was the secret behind Dalvin Cook's 70-yard run?

Cook's career-long run began to unfold well before Vikings center Pat Elflein snapped the ball late in the first half.
The Bears’ Khalil Mack became a difference-maker immediately, whether by disrupting passes or, as above, just making the interception himself.

Halfway there, the NFC North is fully unclear

In the NFC North, the worst can become first on an overnight basis.
Vikings' defense of NFC North (finally) begins in earnest

Vikings' defense of NFC North (finally) begins in earnest

Five of the Vikings' last eight games are within the division, beginning with three in a row.
Safety Andrew Sendejo (34) and the rest of the Vikings secondary won't have to worry about covering Golden Tate (15) on Sunday. The wide receiver was

Trade takes Lions' Tate out of the picture

Lions fans and players weren't the only ones surprised to see their team ship its leading receiver, Golden Tate, to the Eagles for a third-round draft pick before Tuesday's trade deadline.
C.J. Ham of the Vikings is among the Division II players who have landed jobs in the NFL.

Living the dream: Division II players hardly second-rate in NFL

On the NFL: The list of impact players in the NFL from Division II schools extends well beyond Minnesota State's Adam Thielen.

Mark Craig's Week 9 NFL power rankings

The Steelers took the biggest jump; the Lions -- the Vikings' opponent Sunday -- took the largest fall.
The New Orleans Saints defense celebrates a P.J. Williams (26) interception return of 45-yards for a touchdown in the third quarter

'That's all on me.' Diggs says he handed Saints a touchdown

Vikings Insider: A year after his decision to keep running created the Minneapolis Miracle, Stefon Diggs stopped and, in his own words, handed the Saints a game-deciding touchdown.
(Clockwise) Rams running back Todd Gurley, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, Bears defenders closing in on Tampa Bay qu

Five storylines to watch in Week 8 of the NFL

Lions and Packers and Jaguars ... oh my. NFL insider Mark Craig takes a quick look at Week 8.
(Clockwise) Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Saints coach Sean Payton, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Vikings coach Mike Zim

Beyond Week 8 in the NFL

Once a week, NFL Insider Mark Craig will get on and off the field quickly, then focus a spotlight on a player and a coach.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman celebrated a miss by Vikings kicker Blair Walsh to end a playoff game in 2016 (left). And in 2007, Cowboys quarter

Vikings' Minneapolis Miracle in fine company with other playoff gaffes

Marcus Williams whiffed and the Minneapolis Miracle was born, placing him on this man's list of 10 of the more infamous unforced errors on what in the closing seconds of a postseason game.
Norv Turner, left, is Carolina’s offensive coordinator and his son, Scott, is the team’s quarterbacks coach.

Ex-Vikings coordinator Turner leads charmed life with Panthers

NFL Insider: Two Carolina victories have made a big difference in the perception of former Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

Mark Craig's Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

The top three are unchanged, with the undefeated Rams at the top and Tom Brady and the Patriots and Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs right behind
Latavius Murray ran for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He also broke away from the Jets defense for a 38-yard touchdown run in the fourth

Like the wind: Thomas, Murray provide answer to New Jersey gusts

Sunday's windy weather at MetLife Stadium wasn't a factor when Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo called key back-to-back runs.
The Redskins added to their veteran roster in the offseason by acquiring 33-year-old running back Adrian Peterson and 34-year-old quarterback Alex Smi

An old trend: Will Washington win NFC East sans Cousins?

With the 10th-oldest roster in the league, Washington's modern-day "Over the Hill Gang" is 3-2 and atop the NFC East.
In 1961, Charlie Hennigan set a record with seven consecutive games with 100 receiving yards.

Chasing Charlie: Thielen has one game left to catch a legend

The late Charlie Hennigan would have loved Adam Thielen. That's good to know, but, uh, who the heck was Charlie Hennigan?

Adam Thielen aims for NFL reception yardage mark

With 100 yards receiving on Sunday, Adam Thielen will tie former Houston Oilers receiver Charlie Hennigan with a record seventh 100-yard game to open a season. Here's a look at the starts to their seasons

Mark Craig's NFL Power Rankings

The Steelers are on the rise, inside the top 15 this week.
Vikings defenders Ben Gedeon (42) and Anthony Harris broke up a pass intended for Arizona tight end Ricky Seals-Jones in the end zone.

Vikings' goal-line stop in second quarter inspired their defense

Second-quarter stand leads immediately to a stretch of dominance by the Vikings.
It's been a rough year for kickers, but not for Carolina's Graham Gano, who booted a 63-yard field goal to beat the Giants last week.

Kicking it through the years: NFL field-goal percentages

NFL kickers have made 82.6 percent of their field-goal attempts this season. If that pace holds up, it would be the lowest since 2010 (82.4). Kicking percentages through the years:
Dan Bailey watched to see the result of his field goal attempt in the first quarter against the Eagles last Sunday. He missed that one and another tha

NFL kickers are missing more field goals this season

On the NFL: The pressure is on kickers, who haven't been this bad since 2010.
With 34 ½-inch arms and a sculpted 6-5, 252-pound physique, Danielle Hunter looks like an “action figure,” said his trainer in Houston.

This football thing seems to be working out for Danielle Hunter

The Jamaican-born Vikings defensive end has piled up the sacks before his 24th birthday.
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack.

NFL Week 6: Mark Craig's five story lines

What to watch for this week in the NFL.
Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston.

Beyond Week 6 with Mark Craig

Once a week, Mark Craig will get on and off the field quickly, then focus a spotlight on a player and a coach.
Vikings' cornerback Trae Waynes

Waynes ready to return to action; Reiff, Sendejo sit out

The Vikings have played without Trae Waynes since he suffered a concussion while defending Brandin Cooks' 47-yard touchdown reception against the Rams two weeks ago.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has completed 71.2 percent of his passes through five games.

Cousins on record-breaking passing pace (but so are many other quarterbacks)

On the NFL: Five games into the 2018 season, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins sits at 71.2 percent. He's on pace for third place all-time in that category, but doesn't even rank in the league's top three right now.

Mark Craig's NFL power rankings

The Browns jumped from 27 to 16!
Stephen Weatherly caused Carson Wentz (11) to fumble.

Every-down ends: Lack of depth keeps Hunter, Weatherly on the field

Danielle Hunter and Stephen Weatherly were terrific Sunday for the Vikings vs. Philadelphia despite having to play nearly the entire game
The New Orleans Saints took a chance in 2006 on quarterback Drew Brees. “There was nervousness on the team about his shoulder,” Adam Zimmer said.

Brees ready to summit NFL's (increasingly) pass-happy era

On the NFL: Drew Brees likely will pass Peyton Manning as the career passing leader Monday
Kyle Rudolph, right, celebrated his TD in last year’s NFC Championship Game. Then the Eagles scored the next 38 points.

'Finish' is this week's buzzword as Vikings prepare for Eagles

"Starting fast is important, but we also have to finish on Sunday," Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said, recalling last season's NFL Championship game at Philadelphia.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has been hampered by a hamstring injury. He has lost yardage on six of his 36 carries — and he’s the team’s lea

Missing in action: Vikings running game has vanished

The Vikings take the league's worst running game into Lincoln Financial Field for Sunday's NFC Championship Game rematch with the Eagles. How bad is it?

Mark Craig's Week 5 NFL power rankings

The Patriots jumped from No. 17 last week all the way up to No. 3. See where the rest of the league falls into place.
Before games, Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly always writes the first names of his mother and grandmother by the right pylon in the end zone.

Pregame rituals a must for some Vikings

On the NFL: Many NFL players are creatures of habit. Especially on game day. Some players are louder and more outgoing. Others, like defensive end Danielle Hunter, quietly close their eyes and ears to the world.
What can Kirk Cousins do to address fumbles?

What can Kirk Cousins do to address fumbles?

Kirk Cousins' fumble in the closing minutes of Thursday's game in Los Angeles was his league-leading 35th since the start of the 2015 season.
Minnesota Vikings defensive back Xavier Rhodes

Rhodes losing his cool cost the Vikings more than 15 yards

The Rams on Thursday saw an opening with Xavier Rhodes on the sidelines after his ill-timed unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.­ Jared Goff threw a 47-yard touchdown.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer wanted a pass interference call on the Rams defense in the fourth quarter Thursday.

Five extra points: Clock management, picked up flag among key questions after Vikings' loss

NFL writer Mark Craig offers his takeaways from Thursday night's Vikings loss in Los Angeles.
Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) celebrates his third quarter interception against the Vikings on Sunday

Ex-Vikings coach Frazier gets game ball after horrid previous week

Vikings Insider: Leslie Frazier said he didn't like having his play-calling duties stripped from him after the Bills trailed San Diego 28-6 at halftime last week.
A Vikings sack by Eric Wilson on Bills quarterback Josh Allen was nullified by a helmet-to-helmet penalty called on Linval Joseph.

Joseph's mistake set the tone for rest of Vikings' day

Mark Craig's Five Extra Points: There were enough mistakes to go around in the Vikings' 27-6 loss to the Bills, but it started with one by Linval Joseph.
ELIZABETH FLORES • liz.flores@startribune.com
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer doubles as the team’s defensive play-caller.

Could Zimmer ever give up his defensive play-calling duties?

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is also in charge of the defenseive play calls.
Everson Griffen included, the Vikings wanted to throw their hands up after their game against the Packers ended in a 29-29 tie.

Tie game, new OT rule leave Vikings unsettled

Settling for a tie finish 10 minutes into overtime might be safer — maybe — but it isn't satisfying. ­
Receiver Aldrick Robinson caught 19 passes for the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, including this 45-yard touchdown from C.J. Beathard in a 26-24 loss at

Vikings reach into Cousins' past, sign receiver Aldrick Robinson

The 29-year-old speedster, who played in Washington with Kirk Cousins, joins a Vikings receiving corps shaken by Laquon Treadwell's costly drops.
JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen could flex after sacking Aaron Rodgers, but in the end, the

Vikings slip in power rankings, but next opponent is at rock bottom

Going into Week 3, who's up, who's down and who's almost out in Mark Craig's NFL power rankings?
Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) was called for roughing as he tackled Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Richardson welcomes Kendricks to 'fine' club after roughing penalty

Sheldon Richardson welcomed both friend and foe to the growing list of defensive players who have or will be fined thousands of dollars for hits they believe were legal.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed a game-wining 35 yard field goal in overtime to force a 29-29 tie with the Green Bay Packers.

Zimmer baffled by Carlson's misses: 'Guys are supposed to do their jobs'

After one of the worst days for special teams in franchise history, It would be shocking if the Vikings didn't spend Sunday night strongly considering a move at kicker.
Josh Jackson celebrated with fans in the stands after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Blunder behind the blocked punt: Mark Craig's Five Extra Points

Takeaways from Sunday's 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field from NFL writer Mark Craig.
Kirk Cousins will get his first taste of NFC North action on Sunday vs. the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Welcome to the rivalry: Cousins gets NFC North debut at Lambeau

In just his second game as Vikings QB, Kirk Cousins makes his Lambeau Field debut
Does Sendejo scare his own teammates?

Does Sendejo scare his own teammates?

A weekly offbeat look at the Vikings.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had plenty of reasons to both applaud and critique his team after the win against San Fra

Imperfect Vikings avoid Week 1 problems that plagued other playoff teams

On the NFL: Coach Mike Zimmer gets to be 1-0 and unsatisfied for legitimate reasons after his team won while showing there's still a lot to work on.
CARLOS GONZALEZ •cgonzalez@startribune.com
Everson Griffen and the Vikings defense again showed signs of dominance in the win over the 49ers.

Week 1 NFL power rankings: Vikings have room to improve

The Vikings showed they can be dominant, but they aren't there yet.
Harrison Smith charged in from the secondary and sacked 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter as the Vikings amped up their blitzing

Five things: Blitzing Garoppolo leads to big plays in Vikings' win

A look back at Sunday's Vikings game vs. San Francisco from NFL writer Mark Craig.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Minnesota Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson, center, celebrates with teammates after kicking a 48-yard field goal, one of several

Quiet day is a good day for embattled Vikings special teams

Insider: Special teams play, a trouble-spot in the preseason, was a strong point for the Vikings against San Francisco.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer

Zimmer opens up: 'We were so dang close. I felt I let people down.'

Mike Zimmer says he has unfinished business this year after last season's painful playoff loss to the Eagles.
Back Judge Rich Martinez picked up one of the many penalty flags thrown as the Vikings took on the Jaguars in a preseason game.

Optimism and concerns collide as NFL season kicks off tonight

NFL Insider: An assortment of issues face the league as the season opens, including the thin line between preserving the game's violence and protecting player safety.
Terence Newman addressed his retirement and new role, that of coaching young men with whom he recently worked.

Vikings' Newman says time was right to retire, coach

On the NFL: Fresh rapport with players is an asset as he retires to join Mike Zimmer's staff.
The first athletic trainer for the Vikings, Fred Zamberletti (center) died from complications from a toxic infection. He is pictured with equipment ma

Zamberletti, Vikings' first and beloved ex-athletic trainer, dies at 86

Zamberletti was the team's head athletic trainer from its inception in 1961 until 1998, coordinator of medical services from 1999-2001 and senior consultant and team historian the rest of his life.
The 1972 Vikings season started with Fran Tarkenton on the run during a 24-21 loss to the Redskins in Metropolitan Stadium.

2018 expectations for Vikings call to mind the failure of 1972

The fall of 1972 was a missed opportunity for a Vikings team that had gone 35-7 the previous three seasons and was adding an elite passer.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is praised by Mike Zimmer for his football IQ.

Football IQ: Physical tools are fine, but Zimmer seeks out the smart guys

Vikings Insider: Physical tools mean a lot in the NFL, but intelligence separates the good from the great. "We want intelligent players," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed a field goal attempt in the second quarter — one of his two misses.

Kicking concerns return for Vikings after Carlson misses twice

Rookie kicker Daniel Carlson, who made both field goal attempts in a preseason-opening win at Denver, was handed the starting job over Kai Forbath but turned in a dud Friday.
Terrell Owens had his own Hall of Fame ceremony at Tennessee-Chattanooga on Aug. 4.

Vikings Hall of Famer Krause rips Owens, officials over ceremony no-show

Paul Krause is miffed that Terrell Owens conducted his own induction ceremony, and said that Hall of Fame officials shouldn't have given him the gold jacket and ring that goes with the honor.

NFL career interception leaders

They're all chasing Paul Krause's 81 picks.
There were no penalties involved on this play when Vikings safety Anthony Harris, right, and cornerback Horace Richardson broke up a pass intended for

NFL dilemma: New tackling rules 'leading to less aggressive play'

NFL Insider: If the new player safety rules sound confusing, they are — for all involved. Will things get sorted out by the start of the regular season?
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) hears the individual evaluations and comparisons but says the team is focusing solely on advancing one game fart

Pressure? Vikings' Xavier Rhodes has an answer for that: 'We ignore it'

The view from the corner: Rhodes exudes confidence, about his team and himself.
According to NFL scouting combine records, Jaguars cornerback and former Gopher Jalen Myrick ran one of the 10 fastest 40-yard dashes in combine histo

Former U standout Myrick says he's fastest guy at joint practices

According to NFL scouting combine records, Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Myrick ran one of the 10 fastest 40-yard dashes in combine history.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he won’t tolerate his players fighting with the Jaguars during their joint-venture practices.

Zimmer taking steps to keep Vikings' joint practice with Jaguars clean

"We're here to get better," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "Hopefully our guys will know that, and [Jacksonville] will have the same thing. Coach [Doug] Marrone and I have talked about it."
The comparisons between Kirk Cousins, left, and Case Keenum will begin almost immediately.

Cousins vs. Keenum comparisons to begin. But winning all that matters

Vikings Insider: Kirk Cousins knows the bottom line. He'd better win with the Vikings, especially if Case Keenum finds ways to win in Denver with a weaker arm -- the way he did in Minnesota.
Former NFL player Randy Moss gives his speech during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in Canton, Ohio.

Moss on Hall of Fame induction: 'This is for us'

The former Vikings standout turned inclusive as he took his spot in the pro football pantheon.
Randy Moss was introduced to the crowd during the Hall of Fame football game Thursday night in Canton, Ohio.

Randy Moss: 'Why couldn't I have gotten all this love when I played?'

During a Hall of Fame press conference, Randy Moss said reporters weren't fair with him during his career with the Vikings and four other teams. He also talked about the racism he endured as a young man.
Randy Moss will have his bronzed moment Saturday evening in Canton, Ohio, when he enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Best ever? Randy Moss knows who's the boss

After off-the-field mistakes that allowed him to unexpectedly drop to Minnesota in the NFL draft 20 years ago, Randy Moss put together a career that leaves no doubt, in his strong opinion, about who's the greatest wide receiver ever to play professional football:
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