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.

Behind Enemy Lines: Cardinals' shaky offense should be "Get Well" gift for Vikings' defense

Posted by: under Quarterbacks, Vikings, Vikings defense, Brian Robison, Jared Allen Updated: October 18, 2012 - 11:40 AM

As the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s game with Arizona at Mall of America Field, we asked Kent Somers, the Cardinals beat writer for the Arizona Republic, to give us his up-close-and-personal scouting report. Here are four things you need to know …

1.       Ryan Lindley best stay loose.

A week ago, the rookie out of San Diego State was Arizona’s third-string quarterback. Now he’s one big hit away from playing. And the Cardinals offensive line has been giving up plenty of big hits on their quarterback recently.

In the past three games, Arizona has allowed 22 sacks. In last week’s loss to Buffalo, Kevin Kolb suffered a severe injury to his ribs, which moves John Skelton back into the starting quarterback slot. Skelton, of course, started the season opener but left that win with a sprained ankle.

Translation: with all the sacks the Cardinals have been surrendering, Vikings defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison should be jacked up, both facing favorable match-ups.

“These elite pass rushers have just been killing the Cardinals,” Somers said. “Even last week, [Buffalo’s] Mario Williams, who hadn’t done anything all season, gets himself two sacks. Arizona gave up five sacks last week and it was considered progress.”

Allen will line up across from left tackle D’Anthony Batiste. Robison gets Bobby Massie.

Arizona’s starting left tackle Levi Brown tore his triceps in the third preseason game and is on injury reserve. Which has thrown Batiste, a seven-year vet, into the fire – especially this week against Allen.

“The Cardinals are going to have to do some special things to avoid getting torched,” Somers said. “I’d imagine we’d see running backs chipping a lot or some tight end help over there.

Massie is a rookie, a fourth-round pick out of Ole Miss.

As for Skelton, Somers calls him “erratic.”

“He misses some really, really easy throws a lot. He’s a young guy who’s up and down and often struggles with his accuracy.”

2.       Arizona’s 4-0 start was propelled by its energetic defense.

The Cardinals have yet to allow more than 21 points in a game and rank fourth in the NFL in scoring defense (16.2 ppg). They also have 13 takeaways, fifth best in the league.

Like the Vikings, Arizona has a good blend of established veterans and energetic young players who are coming into their own quickly.

Up front, end Calais Campbell and tackle Darnell Dockett have been terrific.

“Campbell has been a handful for everybody,” Somers said.

Somers also said inside linebacker Daryl Washington “is playing at a Pro Bowl level” right now. And Patrick Peterson may be maturing into a superstar, really coming into his own as a cover corner.

With a defense that keeps them in games, Arizona recorded three of its first four wins by four points or less.

3.       A pair of receivers with Twin Cities roots will return home this weekend.

Ninth-year veteran Larry Fitzgerald and his rookie protégé, Michael Floyd, return to Minnesota this weekend.

Fitzgerald, 29, remains one of the NFL’s best, even as he continues to persevere through a career in which he hasn’t had a ton of continuity at quarterback. Through six games this season, he has 36 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns.

Here’s the log of starting quarterbacks Fitzgerald has had through his career: Josh McCown, Shaun King, John Navarre, Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Max Hall.

Yet Fitzgerald went over 10,000 receiving yards for his career last weekend, joining Randy Moss as the only players in league history to reach that milestone in their 20s.

Said Somers: “To do what he’s done with really only two seasons with a settled quarterback situation with Warner [in 2007 and 2008] is pretty incredible. Teams double him all the time and rarely leave him alone. It’s scary to think what he could have done if he had played with a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning or even a Matt Ryan or Matt Schaub.”

As for Floyd, he has just seven catches for 84 yards so far, facing a steep rookie learning curve.

“He’s had a few drops,” Somers said. “And I’m not sure there’s anything that’s really held him back more than the fact that they were pretty deep at receiver with Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts and Early Doucet.”

Having Fitzgerald as a mentor should help.

4.     The Cardinals running game has serious issues.

Beanie Wells is currently on injured reserve with a toe problem. And Ryan Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5.

Next man up? William Powell got the most carries last week and ran for 70 yards on 13 carries against Buffalo. LaRod Stephens-Howling, more of a third down back, was limited to 22 yards on 11 carries.

So much for using a superb running attack to negate the pass rush.

Powell is 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds and actually showed a few signs of promise last week.

Said Somers: “He’s pretty quick and he makes good cuts. So he’s been a recent pleasant surprise. We’ll see.”





Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 89 4th Qtr 7:54
LA Lakers 70
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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 NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question