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.

Tuesday recap: Vikings offense lights up after having fire lit beneath them

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Vikings offense, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: August 7, 2012 - 6:35 PM

Tuesday afternoon's practice has finished and the most encouraging development of the day was the resurgence of the offense, which came to life after a poor effort Monday. Here's more on that and other notable moments of the day from Dan Wiederer and Kent Youngblood.

On Tuesday afternoon, those watching the Vikings practice saw just how effective a motivator Bill Musgrave can be.

Yes, Musgrave.

The Vikings’ offensive coordinator is known as a rather soft-spoken, even-keel kind of guy. But after his offense sputtered during an off-kilter practice Monday, Musgrave became animated and showed a bit of creativity in his attempt to motivate.

Players weren’t letting on about just what Musgrave did during meetings Monday night. But, apparently, it worked.

“He had a great metaphor of lighting a fire,” quarterback Christian Ponder said. “He finds some unique ways of motivating us. But it works. I’m not going to go into details. It might get some people in trouble.”

Asked a few moments later if there were props involved in Musgrave’s pep rally, Ponder laughed.

“Yep,” he said. “Let’s just say it involved a bucket of water, some leaves and some sticks. It was interesting.”

During a much crisper practice Tuesday – “I thought it was the best we’ve performed since I’ve been here,” Ponder observed – the offense executed well, especially during two-minute drills. One 80-yard drive was capped by a 25-yard post pass from Ponder to Percy Harvin for a touchdown. Harvin wrestled the ball away from safety Harrison Smith in the end zone.

“We had two winning drives,” Ponder said. “That’s important for us. … [Monday] was tough. People respond to off days in different ways and obviously we didn’t respond the right way. It was important for us to step out and have a good practice today. We made a point of it [Monday night], to have more enthusiasm. And we did. It was a great way to bounce back.”

It appears Musgrave and his coaches deserve much of the credit. Ponder begged off specifics, but described a Musgrave we don’t usually see.

“He’s quiet, but when he gets on the football field he gets a fire,” Ponder said. “He’s not afraid to yell at people, and he expects a lot out of us. He does it in his own way.”

Head coach Leslie Frazier also expressed his pleasure in seeing the offense rebound Tuesday.

“We were more efficient and our tempo was better,” the head coach said. “Yesterday it kind of lagged a bit and we can’t afford for that to happen. There are always going to be some moments where the defense makes some plays in the game. And you have to push through that. Yesterday, the defense made some plays and we kind of shrunk back on offense. You just can’t do that over the course of four quarters. You have to push through it and find a way to make some plays.”

His time has come … almost

Rookie safety Harrison Smith is getting more and more reps with the first unit on defense and figures to play some there Friday night in San Francisco. The coaching staff has been impressed with how poised Smith has been during his training camp climb.

“He hasn’t blinked,” Frazier said. “He’s kind of fit in. We wanted to see how he’d respond being in there with Kevin [Williams] and those guys. And so far he’s responded well … He hasn’t shrunk back and he’s stepped up and done well when he’s been up with the first unit.”

Smith also seems to bring a bit of a nasty edge to the secondary, a feistiness that Leslie Frazier believes could become contagious.

“I saw it in our OTAs and it’s beginning to show up a little bit more with the pads on,” Frazier said. “And we need that from him. We need a physical, tough safety. With his size and his range, he seems like a guy who can provide that.

What to do with the old guys

Frazier said he has still yet to decide how much work – if any – he plans to give his older, established veterans on defense in Friday’s preseason opener in San Francisco. That means Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield – all in the 30-and-over crowd – will see limited action against the 49ers if they even play at all.

Said Frazier: “We really need to look at some other guys. We kind of know where those guys are. But we’re going to make that decision here. We’re going to talk about that as a staff either tonight or tomorrow.”

Vote of confidence

Don’t be surprised if receiver Devin Aromashodu finds a way to sneak onto the roster this season. Right now, it looks like Aromashodu may be the biggest beneficiary from the devastating knee injury that rookie Greg Childs suffered on Saturday night, tearing the patellar tendons in both knee. Now it’s up to Aromashodu to show his talents under the lights in preseason action. The seventh-year receiver has an endorsement from Ponder right now.

“He’s consistent,” Ponder said. “He’s a guy who you know is going to be where he’s supposed to be. He has great hands and runs good routes and finds ways to get open. He did a good job of stepping in last year. And he’s a veteran guy who understands what he has to do to perform. That’s great. Especially with all the young receivers we have, it kind of sets the example.”

Everybody gets along

ESPN had wall-to-wall coverage Tuesday of a handful of skirmishes that have broken out during Jets training camp this week. In Mankato? All’s been quiet.

There have been very few testy moments and nothing at all even resembling a scuffle through 10 days here. Right now, that’s OK with Frazier.

“We’ve had some competitive times," he said. "But we’ve talked at length about penalties and fights. So maybe that’s had something to do with it. There’s nothing wrong with a fight every now and then. But you have to control it.”

Great expectations?

Ponder doesn’t know how much he’ll play in Friday’s preseason opener, but he has pretty specific goals for the time he does play. “I don’t know how many drives I’ll get,” he said. “But when I do (play) we want to score points. And we want to be efficient – throw completions and be smart with the football.”

In general Ponder has been pretty efficient in camp. Musgrave said he has certain expectations for Ponder in his first preseason game action.

“We’re pleased with the completion percentage up to this point,” Musgrave said. “We want to see what he did on Saturday night in the stadium [during the team scrimmage]. We want to see [Ponder] operate the offense with people in his face, and still be able to get rid of the ball and be accurate. He’s done a great job with checks and audibles at the line of scrimmage.”

Injury updates

  • Guard Geoff Schwartz had successful surgery Tuesday to repair a sports hernia. Frazier said team doctors and trainers have established an expected recovery timetable for Schwartz of 4-6 weeks.
  • Childs also had surgery Tuesday, his to repair torn patellar tendons in both knees. Childs’ rookie season is finished and his future in football is in doubt.
  • Running back Jordan Todman, still dealing with a sprained left ankle, couldn’t practice Tuesday and will not see action in Friday’s preseason opener.
  • Cornerback Josh Robinson, dealing with a hamstring injury, was held back some during Tuesday’s practice. Frazier said there’s a chance Robinson would be held out of Friday’s game in order to get his hamstring healthy for the following week’s home game with Buffalo.
  • Defensive tackle Christian Ballard was also held out with a hamstring issue.
  • Percy Harvin experienced minor cramps at the end of practice but is OK.
  • Linebacker/defensive end Everson Griffen missed part of practice with a stinger but returned to finish the day.
  • Receiver Kamar Jorden has not practiced this week, out with a broken hand.


Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees 2 Bottom 9th Inning
Baltimore 2
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 21 4th Qtr 13:14
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 9/15/14 7:30 PM
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
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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 Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
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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