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.


Lineman Schwartz relishes his return to action

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Vikings, Vikings coaches, Leslie Frazier, Vikings players, Brian Robison, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: October 15, 2012 - 4:39 PM

It was only two series and a handful of plays. But, for right guard Geoff Schwartz, it was wonderful.

“I’m a football player who hasn’t been able to play football,” he said. “So it’s nice to finally be back playing.”

Schwartz missed all of the 2011 season because of a right hip problem. Signed by the Vikings during the off-season, he had sports hernia surgery during the preseason. And while he had been back practicing with the team for a while, Sunday was the first time he had a chance to play. He played in two series at right guard in place of starter Brandon Fusco, one in the second quarter and one that started late in the third quarter. Coach Leslie Frazier said the team wanted to get some film on Schwartz.

“We felt it was a good game to do it and it worked out pretty good to get him, I think he had about 11 snaps,” Frazier said.

Frazier said Schwartz held up pretty well, and that more reps could be in his future. For Schwartz, just getting on the field was a treat.

“It moved fast,” he said. “I mean, I looked it up. I had missed the last two preseasons, and the past season. It had been 29, 30 games I’d missed without being on the field at all.”

The fact that he had to block against a 3-4 scheme in his first game back – which often called for him to block linebackers – only made his return more difficult.

“My second series was better than my first,” he said. “I’ll just take my reps as they come, and just go from there.”

Fusco said he didn’t look at the decision to play Schwartz as a reflection on his own play. But the Vikings opened training camp hoping Fusco and Schwartz would compete for the starting job. Any competition going forward can only make them both better.

Fusco said he felt he could improve in some areas. “Just cleaning up on technique,” he said. “I have to continue to work and study more on the guys I play. I have to be more confident out there, play my game, be aggressive.’’ 

He feels fine

Vikings receiver Percy Harvin said he came out of Sunday’s game feeling fine. This despite looking a little beat up at times after making 11 catches for 133 yards, running twice and returning three kickoffs. Heading into Monday night's game, Harvin led the NFL with 49 receptions and 316 yards after the catch.

“I’m all good,’’ he said. “This is the best I have felt in a while. I’m a little sore, but no sorer than anybody else. I’ve got two days off. I’ll be ready to go Wednesday.”

While the discussion last season sometimes centered on whether the Vikings were playing Harvin enough, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was asked Monday if there was a way to keep Harvin from taking too many hits. Harvin had been dealing with a hamstring issue.

“He plays, as you now, at 100 miles per hour,” Frazier said. “If you give it to him two times in a game, those two times, they are going to be full-tilt. That’s how he plays and that’s what you appreciate about  him, and we’ll always be conscious of how we’re using him and not trying to overuse him. But when you have a talent such as his, you want to utilize his abilities.”

Harvin deflected any questions about playing time, saying only that he liked the game plan the Vikings had and that it just needed to be executed better. 

Sorry Toby

After what happened Saturday, it was difficult to be the only former Stanford player on a Vikings team with five former Notre Dame players.

Stanford went to Notre Dame last week and lost in overtime when the Fighting Irish made a goal-line stand to end the game.  “Yeah, that was tough,” Gerhart said. “My pockets are a little lighter today. But, man, we were right there. We had a chance. … But it is what it is. We win and lose graciously.”

The team flew into Baltimore, then took an hour-long bus ride to the hotel. The bus had satellite TV, and the team watched the Stanford-Notre Dame game all the way. 

Etc.

The college-style offense Washington used Sunday gave the Vikings some problems, and it also gave defensive tackle Brian Robison an opportunity for some dark humor. Seems a week ago he and Jared Allen were watching a Big 12 Conference game and Allen gave Robison (who went to Texas) grief about the horrible defense played in the conference. “So I joked with him (Sunday) night,” Robison said. “I said, ‘Hey, Jared, how was your first Big 12 game?’ That’s the offense they run in the Big 12, and it’s hard to defend.”

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2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
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