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 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…
The Vikings hope Garrett Bradbury will join the crowd and be their center for a long time.

Center of attention: Several years needed to assess drafting Bradbury

Garrett Bradbury last week was the first center drafted in the first round in the 58-year history of the Vikings franchise. It will take time to fully know the value of the pick.

Center of it all: A look at Vikings' in the middle

The Vikings have had six centers start 735 out of 832 regular-season games.
Quarterback Kyler Murray, introduced with much fanfare by Arizona as the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick last week, now joins other draftees in beginning

Good idea to wait before labeling an NFL draft class

Looking back on this year's draft, here are some moves that will be fun to watch as they unfold in the years to come.
The Vikings drafted Oklahoma guard Dru Samia in the fourth round. Samia said the team told him he’d be a good fit for its blocking scheme, and now h

In the zone: Samia positioned to contribute quickly on Vikings O-line

First-round pick Garrett Bradbury should be a Day 1 starter at center. The initial thought is Dru Samia was drafted for depth purposes but shouldn't be entirely dismissed as a potential starter at guard.
A Vikings fan stood near the main stage ahead of the second and third rounds of the NFL draft Friday in Nashville, Tenn.

Four trades mean Vikings will start today with nine more picks

Vikings GM Rick Spielman was eager to accumulate picks Friday, even if coach Mike Zimmer was not.
Kyle Rudolph.

Open arms? Rudolph eager for new tight end to join Vikings

Kyle Rudolph thought it was "awesome" that the Vikings drafted Irv Smith Jr. on Friday in the second round, and the team has a new weapon.
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was taken with the first pick overall in the NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He’s not tall, but has charisma,

Cardinals now have Murray and Rosen … and the upper hand?

The Cardinals Picking Kyler Murray No. 1 overall wasn't a bad move. But it shouldn't require immediately unloading Josh Rosen, last year's pick who showed some promise as a rookie.
The Vikings' Adam Thielen is a two-time Pro Bowler, a former second-team All-Pro and one of the league’s highest-paid receivers. He’s also a class

Thielen as a Packer? It almost happened in the 2013 NFL draft

The Packers had three seventh-round picks that year, two of which they used on receivers. Those receivers caught one ball for the Packers and are long gone from the league. Thielen is a two-time Pro Bowler for the Vikings.
Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr

Late-night phone call led to Barr's decision to spurn Jets, stay with Vikings

"It's been a crazy couple days, but I'm where I want to be," Anthony Barr wrote on his Instagram page. "I believe in our locker room. I love my guys! Back to work!"
Three years ago, the Vikings were thrilled to land guard Alex Boone on the first day of free agency. He became another good example of the kind of swi

Buyers beware: NFL free agency loaded with chances to fail

Remember when the Vikings signed Alex Boone? The offensive lineman became another example of the kind of swing and miss a team can make while sifting through available players this time of year.
New York Giants defensive back Landon Collins (21) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept.

Mark Craig ranks the most overrated and underrated 2019 NFL free agents

Here you go, all you couch general managers: a list of who to pursue and who to avoid in free agency:
Drew Petzing has been with the Vikings since 2014, but this is the first season he will serve as a top-level position coach.

New Vikings receivers coach worked his way up

On the NFL: Drew Petzing's career path is a classic tale of just how big an NFL-sized work ethic is and how far it can carry someone this passionate about coaching football.
San Diego Fleet head coach Mike Martz, center, poses for photos with Alliance of American Football CEO and co-founder Charlie Ebersol, left, and head

Football season not over, but new AAF comes with a twist

Football isn't stepping aside for pitchers and catchers this year, but the Alliance of American Football, which starts Saturday, is highly experimental.
New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) during the third quarter of Super Bowl LIII b

Rams were ugly in Super Bowl because Patriots defended superbly

It's a shame more football fans can't appreciate the historic beauty in how ugly the Patriots defense made the Rams look offensively in Super Bowl LIII.
Coach Bill Belichick reveled, for a sixth time, in the confetti after a Super Bowl. It was a game that wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter, when

Patriots, Belichick wear out Rams for Super Bowl win; McVay: 'I got outcoached'

Sixty-six-year-old Bill Belichick, the greatest defensive mind of the NFL's first century, isn't yet ready to step aside for the so-called future of football.
Bill Belichick is 5-3 in the Super Bowl as New England’s coach and could win his sixth Sunday; Rams coach Sean McVay is the brains behind the NFC’

Here we go again? Patriots-Rams reminiscent of Super Bowl that sparked dynasty

The human chess pieces should be fun to watch as Bill Belichick and Sean McVay, kindred coaching spirits born into football families 33 years apart, match wits on Sunday in Atlanta.
Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick, in 1991.

Little did anyone know in 1991 what awaited Belichick

Bill Belichick's first game as head coach in the NFL came in Boston against a Patriots team quarterbacked by a guy named Tommy - but not that one. Tom Brady was 14
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski

Is Super Bowl LIII the end for Gronkowski?

If it is, the New England star will be remembered as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history
In 17 games with the Patriots, WR Cordarrelle Patterson has lined up in the backfield 47 times. He did that 37 times in four years with the Vikings.

Cordarrelle Patterson: From Vikings' enigma to valuable, versatile Patriot

As the Vikings were preparing to play at New England, earlier this season coach Mike Zimmer admitted the Patriots have used Patterson "way better than we did."
Jedd Fisch served as UCLA interim coach for two games in 2017 before joining the Rams.

Former U coordinator Fisch hooks up with another Super Bowl coach

Jedd Fisch is a former all-state tennis player who never played football. Now he's on the game's biggest stage in an unusual job and working for the NFL's hottest young coach
CBS football analyst Tony Romo

Tony Romo goes from talented QB to 'Romostradamus' on TV

Romo has built his reputation in the TV booth for identifying plays pre-snap, leading CBS broadcast partner Jim Nantz to call him "some kind of sick film guru."
Patriots assistant Dante Scarnecchia excels at getting offensive linemen — even low draft choices — to work together.

Scarnecchia is the Patriots' offensive linemen whisperer

Dante Scarnecchia knows how to spot 'em and coach 'em up, season after season.
Former Vikings center John Sullivan (65) helped quarterback Jared Goff, right, and the Rams be the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL this seas

Back at it: Vikings' cast-off Sullivan now Rams' Super Bowl center Sullivan

John Sullivan thinks the Vikings were too quick to cut him before the 2016 season. But he's not complaining after landing with the Los Angeles Rams (and beating Minnesota during his new team's run to the Super Bowl).
Stephen Gostkowski has been the Patriots’ regular placekicker since 2006, typical of kickers for Bill Belichick, who has had three full-time kickers

Look away, Vikings fans: Belichick's kickers last and last

Matt Stover, Adam Vinatieri, Shayne Graham and Stephen Gostkowski. That's it.
For the first time since 2015, the conference championship games feature the top two seeds in each conference. Part of the reason for that is that the

Building a wall: Strong O-lines link NFL's final four teams together

On the NFL: The last four teams standing represent the top seeds in each conference for the first time since 2015. Each team is different, yet all have much in common, including perhaps the most essential strength in football: offensive line.
Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth, Saints center Max Unger, Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher and Patriots guard Joe Thuney

How the Chiefs, Patriots, Saints and Rams built their offensive lines

Offensive line is a strength shared by the four conference finalists. Here's a look at how the Chiefs, Patriots, Saints and Rams acquired their 20 starting linemen.
Gary Kubiak’s final game as an NFL coach was on Jan. 1, 2017. He will join the staff of Vikings coach Mike Zimmer as assistant head coach and offens

Gary Kubiak joining Vikings as assistant head coach, offensive advisor

The major makeover of the Vikings offensive coaching staff has started with the addition of Gary Kubiak, the winning coach in Super Bowl 50 with Denver, and his son Klint, who will be quarterbacks coach.
Mike Priefer

Mike Priefer leaves Vikings to be Browns special teams coordinator

Priefer's contract expired on Tuesday, and he decided to start anew in Cleveland. Issues with kickers and punters proved to be an ongoing problem
Cowboys defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (99) celebrated the a defensive stop against the Seahawks last Saturday.

From Cowboys to Chiefs … ranking the remaining NFL playoff teams' defenses

Kansas City has one of the NFL's best records despite one of its worst defenses.
Adrian Phillips (31) — one of seven defensive backs the Chargers used for much of Sunday's wild-card game at Baltimore — reacted after a first-hal

On the NFL: Defenses might still matter, at least in the playoffs

This weekend, we'll see if the NFL's top four offenses can play like they have all season.­
New Packers head coach Matt LaFleur (center, with GM Brian Gutekunst and President/CEO Mark Murphy) attracted offers because of his offensive backgrou

In the NFL you get hired if you know offense — or McVay

32-year-old offensive football guru Sean McVay already has a coaching tree laying roots among new NFL head coaches, including Green Bay's Matt LaFleur.
Don't like the NFL playoff field? History says wait a year

Don't like the NFL playoff field? History says wait a year

As happens frequently, the playoff teams are a vastly different group this year than last.
Steve Hutchinson

Ex-Viking guard Hutchinson named finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

In his second year of eligibility, Steve Hutchinson faces a bit of a logjam among offensive linemen.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer

A survivor, Vikings' Zimmer cracks top 10 in NFL longevity

On the NFL: After completing his fifth season, Mike Zimmer is tied for ninth on the list of the league's currently longest-serving coaches.

The iron men of NFL coaching

The 2019 NFL season will open with 19 of the league's 32 head coaches having been hired since the end of the 2016 season.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky scrambled for for a five yard gain in the third quarter

Role reversal: Bears extended drives while Vikings couldn't buy a first down

The Vikings held the Bears to one third-down conversion in 12 attempts and won 23-10 last New Year's Eve. Sunday, it was a much different story.
Ageless Saints quarterback Drew Brees, left, is one of the two leading candidates for MVP, along with youthful Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes.

Old vs. young: MVP voters have tough choice between Brees, Mahomes

Some of the choices for NFL end-of-the-year awards and difficult to choose - including going old (Drew Brees) or young (Patrick Mahomes) for MVP.
Bears coach Matt Nagy

Eagles hoping Bears can beat Vikings on Sunday

The Eagles' playoff hopes are hinging on the Bears beating the Vikings on Sunday.
The Ravens (top) would be the nastiest underdog no high-flying offensive team wants to tangle with in January. Other higher-seeded teams to be reckone

Which NFL team would make the most dangerous playoff foe?

NFL Insider: The Ravens aren't the best team. Not even close. But they would be the nastiest underdog no high-flying offensive team wants to tangle with in January.

Mark Craig's Week 17 power rankings

The Saints are still on top, but the Ravens made this week's biggest leap up the charts.
Rookie tackle Brian O’Neill of the Vikings looked for a block against the Patriots on Dec. 2.

Vikings tackle O'Neill developed quickly as a pass blocker

The rookie has not allowed a sack in 488 snaps in pass protection.
Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) chases Detroit Lions running back Zach Zenner (34) during the first half of an NFL football game, Su

Defense helps turn gut-punch struggle into gut-check victory

A "tough start" is underselling just how bad the Vikings were offensively before scoring 27 unanswered points. It took more than 25 minutes for them to get a first down.
Lions defenders stopped Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) for know gain in the second quarter at Ford Field Sunday December 23, 2018 in

Five Extra Points: Flags slow, but don't stop Vikings

1. Overcoming penalty after penalty after …Nose tackle Linval Joseph looked up, shook his head and said, "Penalties killed us, man." Actually, they didn't, not…
Houston's Deshaun Watson (clockwise top right), New England's Tom Brady, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Chicago coach Matt Nagy

Five Week 16 NFL story lines: Can Nagy, Bears stay in hunt for NFC's top seed?

Mark Craig takes a spin around the NFL to get you ready for Week 16.
Offense vs. defense: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes represents the NFL’s high-scoring trend. Those defensive Ravens below? They might get left behind.

Owning NFL's top scoring defense no longer equates to playoff berths

On the NFL: Owner of top scoring defense, normally a lock for playoffs, may not get even a sniff of postseason play.
Rams coach Sean McVay, left, and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott

NFL beyond Week 16

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

Defense can't rest, as NFL takes an offensive turn in 2018

Not since the 1977 Falcons has the NFL's top scoring defense failed to make the playoffs. Heading into Week 16, Baltimore and Tennessee — both 8-6 — were tied for the lead in scoring defense at 18.1 points allowed per game.
New Orleans' Drew Brees looked to pass under pressure from Carolina's Mario Addison in the second half Monday.

Mark Craig's power rankings

There's a new team at No. 1, even though said team didn't exactly impress in Week 15.
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