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Mark Craig

Reporter/Columnist | Vikings/NFL
phone: 612-673-7011
Mark Craig covers the NFL and the Vikings.
Recent content from Mark Craig
The crowd around Hole No. 1 at the 3M Championship in Blaine last August.

PGA Tour event could be coming to Minnesota in 2019

If Houston can't lock in a tournament sponsor by June 1, it could lose its PGA Tour stop. Will Minnesota finally swoop in to secure a long-term spot on the calendar?
Chad Beebe was 5-1 and 107 pounds as a prep freshman, but that didn’t deter him from his NFL dream. He's now with the Vikings after a rookie minicam

Vikings give undrafted receiver Chad Beebe a chance

He was one of four tryout players signed by the Vikings.
Running back Mike Boone improved his athletic prowess at a performance center.

Undrafted Boone seized helping hand in making the jump to Vikings

Vikings Insider: With modest college stats and no NFL scouting combine invite, running back Mike Boone needed a head-turning performance to get a pro tryout.
First-round draft choice Saquon Barkley, flanked by coach Pat Shurmur (left) and General Manager Dave Gettleman, should do wonders for the Giants’ r

Ex-Vikings coordinator Shurmur gets dealt nice hand with Giants

NFL Insider: Upgraded talent, stronger coaching and better luck with injuries would put Pat Shurmur much closer to the 11-5 team in 2016 than the 2017 Giants.
South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert was selected 49th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles, who leapfrogged the Dallas Cowboys via trade for the oppor

South Dakota State's Goedert caught in middle of trade-happy draft

NFL insider: Dallas Goedert's surprise rise took another twist as teams became aggressive dealmakers during the three-day event.
Before formally being introduced to local media members Vikings first round pick Mike Hughes from the University of Central Florida is directed toward

Vikings' top pick Hughes got needed reboot at 'Opportunity U.S.A.'

NFL Insider: Vikings first-round draft pick Mike Hughes wouldn't have reached his highest point as a football player if a longtime junior college coach named Jeff Sims
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is selected by the Cleveland Browns with the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft

First-round reactions: Browns botch both No. 1 and No. 4 picks

NFL Insider: Proving the worthlessness of months of NFL mock drafts, the Browns stunned everyone by selecting Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield with the first pick.
In their final six quarters — the 29-24 "Minneapolis Miracle" victory over the Saints and the 38-7 NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia — th

'We're no Wall of America.' Vikings know they must learn from collapse

Vikings Insider: In their final six quarters — the 29-24 "Minneapolis Miracle" victory over the Saints and the 38-7 NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia — the Vikings gave up 62 points.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold

Mock, mock. (Who's there?) Our quarterback-centric mock draft

Star Tribune pro football writer Mark Craig sees an NFL draft in which the first round is dominated by the selection of quarterbacks, both in numbers and where they'll pick, So what's the Vikings' angle?
Draft board? Try blackboard. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle stood chalk in hand at the NFL-AFL draft March 14, 1967, in New York City. With three of

Travel back in time to a simpler NFL draft

Landmark football draft of 1967 barely made a ripple.
Through the Banks of the Red Cedar is finally making its world premiere. It will show here in Minnesota on Sunday during the Minneapolis St. Paul Inte

Segregation to stardom: Ex-Vikings receiver's life chronicled by daughter

A film about Gene Washington's journey through the "underground railroad" of college football recruiting in the 1960s is showing Sunday as part of a Twin Cities film festival.
Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph (98) forced Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) to get rid of the ball in the endzone, for a Vikin

NFL strength of schedule almost never predictor of team's outcome

NFL Insider: Yes, the Vikings' 2018 schedule is "tough." But the team with the 10th toughest strength of schedule has won the Super Bowl three of the past four years.
Second from the left in the rear, PGA of America President Paul Levy was given an honorary jersey as he joined the American Marshalls, a group of dieh

Ryder Cup's return to Hazeltine testament to course's pedigree

The club's willingness to grow with the sport of golf has allowed it to host eight professional major championships since 1966, including the 2016 Ryder Cup
Kai Forbath and holder Ryan Quigley

Vikings feel safe with kicker Kai Forbath after weighing their options

The Vikings and Kai Forbath settled on a deal before each side looked around any further.

Craig: Rest of NFC North has work to do after free agency

With determination and deep pockets, the Vikings cast a large shadow over their NFC North counterparts during the first wave of free agency.
Sheldon Richardson signed a one year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. credit: Andrew Krammer

Vikings go big, sign defensive tackle Richardson

Sheldon Richardson, the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, is coming to Minnesota in hopes of jump starting his promising and still-young career as a starting tackle.
Kirk Cousins played through two years of franchise tags in Washington to reach Thursday’s historic moment.

Don't expect Cousins contract to become an NFL trend

A QB of this caliber, still in his prime, reaching the open market before his 30th birthday is pretty much the NFL equivalent of spotting Bigfoot reeling in the Loch Ness Monster.
Nick Foles and Case Keenum stepped in after injuries to lead their teams in 2017.

Of all teams, Vikings know value of a good backup plan

The key to winning in the NFL these days might be a team's depth at backup quarterback. The Vikings know that from their own success -- and end-of-season failure.
Kirk Cousins

Wherever Cousins signs, he's about to enter the salary stratosphere

So, what's Kirk Cousins worth, you ask? The answer here is very similar to the go-to response when called upon in algebra class a few decades ago: "Um, ah … no idea."
(Clockwise), Atlanta's Dontari Poe (No. 92), Seattle's Jimmy Graham, Cincinnati's A.J. McCarron and Seattle's Paul Richardson all made Mark Craig's fr

Four NFL free agents worth the money and four free agents to avoid

Star Tribune NFL writer Mark Craig takes a swing through the mall to assess which NFL free agents he'd buy and which ones he'd stay away from.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Eagles quarterback Nick Foles posed with his MVP trophy during a news conference after Super Bowl LII on Monday. Th

As Eagles look back, Vikings fans can finally look forward again

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles may not be looking ahead. But that's the only sensible direction for Vikings fans to look after watching the last couple of weeks.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham knocked the ball out of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's hands. The loose ball was recovered by Derek Barnett.

Eagles defense still makes key plays in sea of offense

In a championship game that featured 1,151 total yards, 74 points and one punt, the Eagles made three defensive stops that were every bit as valuable as their quarterback throwing for 374 yards and three TDs.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) rolls into the end zone for the touchdown in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII. The touchdown put the

Catch rule controversy rears its ugly head

Did the NFL take the easy way out during a replay review in Sunday's Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium?
Patriots coach Bill Belichick

Craig: Greatest pro football coach ever? Belichick part of great debate

Is Patriots coach Bill Belichick the best ever in the NFL? He's up there with such greats as George Halas and Vince Lombardi.

Super Bowl predictions from Minnesota

Patriots 27, Eagles 24Yeah, I've heard how Doug Pederson has become an RPO (run-pass option) guru. I've heard how Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is…
Randy Moss, first-ballot Hall of Famer? 'I call myself the greatest'

Randy Moss, first-ballot Hall of Famer? 'I call myself the greatest'

Randy Moss says he's the best, 'hands-down, all day.' Will Pro Football Hall of Fame voters on Saturday agree?
Vikings offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson BRIAN PETERSON brianp@startribune.com

Ex-Viking Hutchinson has high hopes for Hall of Fame induction

Steve Hutchinson, a five-time All-Pro and on the 2000s All-Decade team, is a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist.
New England Patriots' Tom Brady gets a high five during NFL football Super Bowl 52 Opening Night Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, at the Xcel Center in St. Paul

Nobody matches Patriots' Brady for sustained greatness

The 18-year veteran is expected to win his third league MVP award Saturday night on the 16th anniversary of his first Super Bowl victory. Think about that.
How many of these amazing Super Bowl moments can you identify?

The 10 greatest moments in Super Bowl history

Before Bill & Tom create their next unbelievable, where-were-you-when moment, here are Mark Craig's top 10 Super Bowl moments heading into Sunday night's game at U.S. Bank Stadium:
Minnesota’s first NFL team, the Minneapolis Marines (1923 photo), played from 1921-24. They were resurrected as the Redjackets in 1929-30 and had a

Forgotten stars: Minnesota's first NFL team wasn't the Vikings

The Vikings were predated by a Minneapolis pro football team called the Marines (1921-24) and Red Jackets (1929-30); and a Duluth team called the Kelleys (1923-25) and Eskimos (1926-27).
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady smiled after winning the AFC Championship 24-20 over the Jaguars on Sunday.

Former Vikings assistant was early Brady believer

Tom Brady's first big believer, Dick Rehbein, didn't live to see him succeed.
Corey Clement (30) broke away from Anthony Barr (55) in the second quarter.

Vikings' vaunted defense puzzled by its ineptness

What happened? The Eagles on Sunday tagged the Vikings defense with season highs in points, yards and third-down conversions (10 of 14 with two TDs).
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was surrounded by purple Vikings jerseys while throwing under pressure in the second quarter of Sunday's NFC

Who's the MVP of the Vikings' defense? Argue away

Be it Smith, Rhodes, Griffen, Joseph or someone else, the Vikings have multiple candidates. And you can make a bunch of interesting arguments.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum took to the field for practice at Winter Park, Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in Eden Prairie, MN. ELIZABETH FLORES liz.f

Keenum, Foles: The quarterbacks crashing Tom Brady's playoff party

Tom Brady has the pedigree, rings and records. In other words, he's the opposite of Case Keenum and Nick Foles, as well as Jacksonville's Blake Bortles.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham sacks Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan during the second half of an NFL football NFC divisional

Craig: Eagles believe their defense on par with Vikings' - and they're not wrong

"We always have the mind-set every week that we are the best," Philadelphia defensive end and sacks leader Brandon Graham said.
Former Minnetonka High School defensive tackle Beau Allen has found a spot in the Eagles’ rotation, playing 41 percent of the snaps this season. All

Craig: Minnetonka's Allen has turned his family into Philly fanatics

Beau Allen's dad loved the Vikings and his mom the Packers. But now they're all in on the Eagles.
Eagles defensive end Chris Long is the man behind the canine masks that will pervade the stands at Lincoln Financial Field for the NFC Championship Ga

Craig: Will the Philly 'dog bite, or just bark?

Hidden behind Eagles' canine masks is rabid motivation.
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount left both Vikings safeties in his wake on an 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The score broke a 7-7

Five Extra Points: Eagles were superb in every way

Five takeaways from Sunday's game from NFL writer Mark Craig
Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) flips over Vikings middle linebacker Eric Hendricks in the second half.

Craig: Third-down stop gives Vikings one last chance

The third-down stop that forced Wil Lutz's field goal came with enough time for the Modern Miracle at the Bank, a 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs as time expired.
Vikings receiver Adam Thielen stretched high to make a reception against New Orleans rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

Five extra points: Thielen blocks like a champ, Griffen trumps Jordan

Five takeaways from Sunday's dramatic Vikings' victory over the Saints.
These 'Zim Reapers' need playoff wins to match 'Purple People Eaters'

These 'Zim Reapers' need playoff wins to match 'Purple People Eaters'

Vikings defense has performed at a level unseen since days of Purple People Eaters, but without a similar catchy nickname
Brett Favre

Craig: Vikings have a fan in Brett Favre

The quarterback of the last Vikings team to face the Saints says he'll be watching - and rooting for his former team.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen celebrated his sack on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. JERRY HOLT jerry.holt@startribune.co

Griffen vs. Jordan: Battle of top pass rushers (and trash talkers)

Neither player lacks confidence. Early this season, Griffen called Lions left tackle Greg Robinson "lazy." On Sunday, Jordan mocked Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil, calling him "Speedbump McGee"
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer did the Skol clap as he walked off the field at the end of a 23-10 win against the Bears to close out the regular seaso

Craig: Zimmer says 'there is no damn curse' and Vikings will show why

The Vikings have a bye in the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2009. History hasn't always been on their side. Pro football writer Mark Craig takes you down the road that should lead the Vikings to Super Bowl LII.
NFL playoff preview: An up-close look at each AFC, NFC team with Super Bowl LII in sight

NFL playoff preview: An up-close look at each AFC, NFC team with Super Bowl LII in sight

Here is a closer look at the 12-team playoff field …

Super Bowl odds and ends

This and that as the playoffs set to begin.
Saints QB Drew Brees

Passer rating differential is a stat that matters

In a pass-happy league, it makes sense that a team's passer rating differential (the difference between a team's passer rating and its opponents' passer rating) is vital.
Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski employs a first baseman’s glove to catch passes during warmups on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, at L

On the NFL: Is Vikings QB coach Stefanski nearing a coordinator job?

If Shurmur moves on, would Stefanski move up?
Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray (25) scored from the one yard line on the Vikings' first possession Sunday afternoon. ] JEFF WHEELER ï

Craig: Vikings flex 'muscle' on offensive line vs. Bears

Using their "muscle" formations, the Vikings used a handful of unheralded players up front against the Bears. The results were better than anyone could have imagined.
Vikings running back Latavius Murray scampered for an eight-yard gain

Vikings' five extra points: Murray is 'Most Improved,' Keenum makes undrafted QB history

Five takeaways from Sunday's regular-season finale
the architect: Under Pat Shurmur’s guidance, the Vikings offense this season ranks 10th in the NFL in yards (358.9) and points (23.9) per game.

Shurmur pulls all the right strings in first full season as Vikings OC

With many NFL teams expected to change coaches after Sunday's action, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur probably will be looked at as a possible replacement by multiple general managers.

Mark Craig's Week 17 NFL power rankings

The 49ers made the biggest jump from No. 21 to No. 16, while the Packers took the biggest fall from No. 17 to No. 22.
History advises Mike Zimmer’s 12-3 Vikings to hold off on any championship chatter.

Lucky 13! Vikings eye more than milestone win

Victory total can lead to success but not ensure it.
Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum

Vikings' quarterback situation stickiest among playoff teams

Four teams — Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Jacksonville and the Vikings — heading toward the playoffs while vying for the league's most intriguing situation at quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum.

Craig: Keenum goes from NFL afterthought to best bargain since 1972

Case Keenum is being discussed around the league now, unlike when the Vikings signed him.
Harrison Smith (22) intercepted a Brett Hundley pass in the second quarter.

Five extra points: Harrison Smith highlights team's third-down dominance

The Vikings went into Saturday's game at Lambeau Field ranked first in the league in third-down defense.
Super Bowl LII: Chiefs can lock up AFC West, Falcons pushing for NFC South

Super Bowl LII: Chiefs can lock up AFC West, Falcons pushing for NFC South

The Chiefs, like the Vikings last season, started the year 5-0. But Kansas City hopes to avoid being locked out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Super Bowl runner-up Atlanta has two tough games to win to claim the NFC South.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph: “I’ve established myself in the red zone.”

Rudolph the red-zone regular having a very shiny year for Vikings

Veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph has seven touchdown receptions when his team is inside the 20, almost one-quarter iof the Vikings' red-zone scores.

NFL Week 16 power rankings: Patriots can pack for Super Bowl, Vikings aren't slowing down

Biggest jump: Chiefs No. 15 to No. 10 • Biggest fall: Chargers No. 11 to No. 151. Patriots, 11-3 (Last week: 2)If you cover…
Eric Kendricks dives into the endzone after intercepting a pass and running 31 yards for a TD in the 1st quarter.

Crafty Zimmer shows how to fool a team familiar with his defense

Cincinnati's humiliation began with six minutes left in the opening quarter when quarterback Andy Dalton Dalton surveyed Zimmer's defense on a third-and-6 play.
Vikings running back Latavius Murray pounds through the line for a 1-yard touchdown, capping the opening drive against Cincinnati.

Five Extra Points: No problem for Vikings on goal-to-go downs

Five takeaways from Sunday's game vs. Cincinnati
When Marvin Lewis, right, turned his defense over to Mike Zimmer, the Bengals became one of the stingiest teams in the NFL.

Mike Zimmer's fingerprints remain all over the Bengals' defense he left behind

Defensive schemes took root during Bengals days.
Nick Foles

Top NFL Week 15 storylines: Steelers, Patriots battle for homefield advantage, Eagles move on without Carson Wentz

Will Steelers snap Pats' stranglehold?Home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs likely will be decided in Pittsburgh. If the Patriots win, they'll be tied with Pittsburgh…
Neither snow nor wind nor a 6-6 record heading into the final five weeks of the schedule last season was enough to stop Aaron Rodgers, who guided the

Uh-oh, Aaron Rodgers is back and the Packers aren't out of playoff contention

Think Green Bay is doomed at 7-6? History says otherwise
Jaguars vs. Rams: The Super Bowl LII matchup no one imagined

Jaguars vs. Rams: The Super Bowl LII matchup no one imagined

For the Vikings to reach the big game … Last week, I said Case Keenum needed to keep the team’s INT percentage down in the…
Vikings Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle (93, shown in 2006) has some advice for Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson after his episod

Famed Vikings trash-talker Randle tells players to ignore boorish fans

Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson could have used that advice from the Hall of Fame defensive tackle Sunday in Jacksonville after he was ejected for fighting.
Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) dove over the goal line for a touchdown against the Vikings during the second half Sunday.

Power rankings: Vikings fall, Steelers climb, everyone jockeys for playoff position

The Chiefs make the biggest climb; the Jets take the biggest fall.
Carolina Panthers' Jonathan Stewart falls into the end zone for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of an NFL football gam

How the Panthers found a weakness in Vikings' run defense

Carolina had 1,540 pounds of manhood focused on the right side of its line, including an out-of-position Matt Kalil, on the play when Jonathan Stewart ran 60-yards for a touchdown..
Viking quarterback Case Keenum was chased down early in the first quarter.

Five extra points: Keenum is Tarkentonesque, Diggs gets his way

Five takeaways from Sunday's Vikings loss to the Panthers include a rare drop for Kyle Rudolph, Latavius Murray shut down and Case Keenum's elusiveness
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dives for a touchdown past New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon (30) during the second half of an NFL foo

Craig: We've seen good Panthers and bad Panthers since Super Bowl loss

The Panthers have had an uneven ride since Super Bowl 50.
Vikings, Steelers on path to Super Bowl LII

Vikings, Steelers on path to Super Bowl LII

Every week, Mark Craig projects the hottest two teams on the Road to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII. The Vikings haven't slowed down yet, and the Steelers appear to be the only team capable of stopping the Patriots.
Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson (23) runs back onto the field prior to the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Bu

Success of Vikings, Saints accentuates fall of Adrian Peterson

Peterson's worth was undeniable five years ago when he won NFL Most Valuable Player award while carrying the Vikings into the playoffs. Sadly, his value today is equally unmistakable.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) celebrated the Vikings 14-9 win over the Falcons at Mercedes -Benz Stadium Sunday December 3, 201

Week 14 power rankings: It's safe to believe, Vikings fans; It's safe to hope, Packers fans

The Vikings crept up to No. 3. Find out who they're still chasing.
Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan fumbles as he is hit by New England Patriots' Dont'a Hightower during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football gam

Craig: Will Falcons shake typical Super Bowl-loss blues?

Most teams that lose a Super Bowl don't win a playoff game the next year
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr tackled Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan after he picked up 2 yards in the third quarter. JERRY

Biggest Vikings' statement: Stopping Atlanta's third-down excellence

The Falcons, lauded for their third-down conversion rate, were dominated by the Vikings' third-down defense during Sunday's 14-9 Minnesota victory.
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