Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Vikings FAQ: Winfield at safety? Gerhart’s knee? Competition for Walsh?

Posted by: under Vikings, Bears, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Leslie Frazier, Ryan Longwell Updated: June 19, 2012 - 9:25 AM

If you follow the NFL to any extent, you realize this is a ‘round-the-clock business nowadays with a combination of fan interest and media coverage that’s never been larger. So to keep you up to speed with the Vikings, we’re delivering our Frequently Asked Questions post, our way of centralizing many questions that get asked and answered over and over and over again. Here goes … 

Would the Vikings ever move veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield to safety?

Nope. No way. Never. Head coach Leslie Frazier has said consistently that he has no plans to move Winfield to safety, preferring to use him in his natural role at corner. More significantly, Winfield has made it clear to anyone who will listen that he’s not even a little bit open to the possibility of a position change.

“No. No. Safety is a different animal,” Winfield said during the first week of Organized Activities. “I’ve never played safety. Ever. So I’d have to learn everything. No. I’ll either be playing outside or at the nickel.”

Keep in mind, the Vikings have drafted three safeties (Mistral Raymond, Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton) over the past two years. Plus Winfield is now 34 and entering the final year of his contract. He will be used some on the outside but may be at his best as a nickel corner as well.

How’s Toby Gerhart’s knee?

If you recall, Gerhart suffered a slight tear to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the Vikings’ 2011 season finale. That injury came just eight days after star running back Adrian Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL in a win at Washington. So initially, there were fears that the Vikings’ top two running backs would be sidelined for significant periods of time.

Even Gerhart had that fear when his knee buckled in the New Year’s Day loss to the Bears, admitting he felt far more panic than pain in the wake of Peterson’s injury.

But Gerhart’s injury turned out to be minor. It did not require surgery. And it did not set Gerhart back much, if at all. He was active during the team’s offseason strength and conditioning program and ready for the team’s first session of OTAs in late May. Gerhart has said repeatedly he feels 100 percent. It was a non-serious injury that shouldn’t cause any worry going forward.

After cutting veteran kicker Ryan Longwell in May, will the Vikings have a second kicker at training camp in Mankato to heighten the competition for rookie Blair Walsh?

Highly doubtful. The Vikings loved Walsh enough to use a sixth-round draft pick on him in April. And they have set things up for Walsh to be their starting kicker in 2012 and beyond with no one around to challenge him. The Vikings admire Walsh’s leg strength, believing he can be more valuable on kickoffs than Longwell was in his final season wearing purple. And they’re not worried about the 14 missed field goals Walsh had as a senior at Georgia in 2011.

The decision to release Longwell was made both to shake things up on special teams and to clear an unobstructed path for Walsh to be the team’s lone kicker for the immediate future. Asked in May whether a second kicker would be brought in to challenge Walsh during training camp, Frazier replied, “Right now we don’t plan on bringing another leg. No, we don’t plan on bringing in another kicker.”

Will the Vikings change to a 3-4 defense any time soon?

Not so long as Frazier is the head coach and Alan Williams is his defensive coordinator. Frazier was peppered with questions throughout the second half of 2011 about whether he would consider abandoning his system – a 4-3 structure with heavy use of Cover 2 zone principles – to shift to a 3-4. Yet that never really drew serious consideration inside Winter Park and died the minute Frazier brought in Williams as his defensive coordinator.

In mid-January, we offered a detailed analysis of the Vikings’ resistance to a scheme overhaul. Said one player: “When you build an organization for six years around one defense and you draft that way and structure your team that way personnel-wise, it’s a major change to disrupt that.”

Added Frazier: “What I’ve tried to do with our players is remain committed to what I think is right. There is great value in having a clear vision and stating what the plan is. And you can’t deviate from your plans and vision just because of outside circumstances.”


San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Houston 7:00 PM
Indiana 7:00 PM
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Arizona 7:00 PM
Carolina 7:00 PM
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Florida 8:00 PM
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
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Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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