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 mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Simpson has MRI on left leg; Smith won't be fined or suspended

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Leslie Frazier Updated: October 8, 2012 - 2:31 PM

The Vikings are remarkable healthy overall for an NFL team heading into its second game in October.

But receiver Jerome Simpson, the team's No. 1 deep threat, has undergone a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam this morning to determine the nature and severity of what coach Leslie Frazier described as "lower [left] leg weakness and numbness."

"From everything I've been told, we shouldn't be afraid to the point where we're going to lose him for a long period of time," Frazier said. "But everything is not conclusive as we speak."

Frazier said team doctors suspect the problem could be connected to the back as well as the leg. Frazier also said the injury was news to him when he woke up Sunday morning, hours before the team was to play the Titans at Mall of America Field.

"I get a text yesterday from [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman saying there was something wrong with Jerome," Frazier said. "And when I get to the stadium and he comes into my office and explains to me what's going on, it wasn't the conversation I expected to have on the day of the game. We had a big package for Jerome in this game. We really felt like there some things that we could utilize his abilities and make some plays for us.

"We took him out on the field and tried to do some things to see if we should have him [active] or should be have him [inactive]. So it wasn't until just a few hours before the game that he came in and told us he was having some weakness and couldn't really push off on that leg."

Frazier decided to play Simpson, but had a fifth receiver active just in case Simpson or Michael Jenkins, who has a rib injury, couldn't peform. Normally, the team activates only four receviers.

"After we worked him out, our doctors didn't think he would be in jeopardy if he played," Frazier said.

Simpson was targeted three times, but didn't catch a pass. The team's first offensive snap was a pass to Simpson that he dropped. Simpson left the field and slammed his helmet down.

"He said this has never happened to him before," Frazier said. "This was new to him, so you can imagine that it scared him. ... We were hoping as time went on he would regain that feeling during the course of the game. The doctors felt that was possible. And it did get a little better, but not to the point where he felt completely comfortable."

Smith won't be fined or suspended: Safety Harrison Smith, who was ejected in the second quarter of Sunday's game after shoving an official, will not be fined or suspended, Frazier announced today.

"We don't condone his behavior whatsoever," Frazier said. "It's not smart football. We got to be able to handle our emotions when things get a little bit awry. He knows that. He and I have talked about it. We have to do a better job in moments when that occurs of being able to walk away from the situation and not cost our team a penalty or a potential dismissal from the game."

In other news from Frazier's press conference:

  • The mild ankle sprain that running back Adrian Peterson suffered is tender today, but Frazier said, "We don't think there's anything that will keep him from playing in this next ballgame. He should be fine going forward."
  • Linebacker Marvin Mitchell, who strained his calf in practice last Thursday, is expected to return to practice on Wednesday.
  • Safety Andrew Sendejo, who missed another game Sunday because of an ankle sprain, is expected to return to practice on Wednesday as well.
  • Frazier said the coaches will continue to evaluate how to handle the middle linebacker position in the nickel defense. Erin Henderson had been in that role until suffering a concussion in Week 2. Jasper Brinkley took over and did so well that he kept the role even after Henderson returned from his concussion on Sunday. "Erin did a good job in the base defense [Sunday]," Frazier said. "Didn't get any snaps in the nickel. The way Jasper is playing, it's hard to take him off the field in nickel situations. He's doing such a good job. He's grown. He always felt like he could do it if we gave him the opportunity. And he's showing he's capable. But we Erin is good at the nickel mike position as well."
  • As far as that 2-0 mark that Frazier has at Washington, well, it's a non-factor heading to Washington this week, Frazier said. "It will not even be talked about this week," Frazier said.
  • Frazier isn't ready to declare rookie cornerback Josh Robinson the full-time starter ahead of veteran Antoine Winfield. The Vikings started Robinson in the base defense on Sunday as a way of helping preserve Winfield's 35-year-old legs throughout the season. Winfield still played in the nickel and in some base situations throughtout the game. Asked if Robinson will now be the starter in the base, Frazier said, "I don't know that eventually will be the case in 2012. We know at some point, we're hoping at some point Josh develops to where he can be our starting corner. That's why we drafted him [in the third round]. When that transformation occurs, we're not sure."
  • Frazier said rookie tight end Rhett Ellison hasn't evolved to the point where he's going to take any reps from the team's top two tight ends, Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. Ellison had his first two NFL catches, including a 29-yarder, on Sunday.
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