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.


Kluwe back to just being a punter; updated injury report

Posted by: Chris Miller under Injury report, Vikings, Lions, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Vikings defense, Vikings injury report, Antoine Winfield, Brian Robison, Chris Kluwe, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: November 7, 2012 - 3:35 PM

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe became the face of the opposition to the state amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman, a proposal that was shot down in Tuesday night’s election.
Kluwe said he was relieved at the result and that the election was over.

“It took away a lot of my video playing time,” he joked. “But human rights are more important than playing Xbox and PlayStation.

“It’ll be nice to not have a bunch of people around my locker -- hopefully I can play well and everyone can go back to ignoring the punter.”

Vikings officials didn’t talk to Kluwe about his political activism, other than “mainly supporting, you know, support the fact that you can speak your mind and play football on Sunday. That’s what it really boils down to.”

Kluwe is 25th in the NFL with a 44.1 yard average and 16th with a net average of 40.0.

Injury report

DT LeTroy Guion (turf toe) and WR Percy Harvin (ankle) did not practice today. FB Jerome Felton (shoulder), OT Matt Kalil (knee) and CB Antoine Winfield (knee) were limited in practice.

Safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) was a full participant in practice.

Digging out of a hole

Linebacker Erin Henderson said the players realize the importance of Sunday’s game against Detroit. The Lions, who had their bye week, are 4-4. The Vikings are a half-game ahead at 5-4, with Chicago (7-1) and Green Bay (6-3) showing the way in the NFC North.

”We understand the situation we put ourselves in right now,” Henderson said. “We are seeing the situation with seven games left, we have to go out and win.

“We’re starting to put ourselves in a hole. It’s not too deep and not too steep a hole, we need to keep on fighting and scratching and clawing to get ourselves out.”

Gaps and wraps

After four consecutive games where an opposing back has run for more than 100 yards, the Vikings are determined to improve their run defense. Seattle had 195 yards rushing on Sunday.

“Guys weren’t always in their gaps, and we missed a lot of tackles,” said defensive end Brian Robison. “When teams are able to run on you like they were Sunday, it opens up their playbook for pretty much everything. They can play action pass, they can still run the ball, they can drop back, pretty much anything they want to do. So the bottom line for us is we got to make sure we stop the run and get them into a one-dimensional offense.

“Hustling to the ball, that’s not our problem. It’s gap control and making those plays when we have the opportunity to make them.”

The Vikings had only one sack against Seattle, but as Robison said, “You can’t get pressure on the quarterback if they are running the ball.”

Seeing Devin

With Harvin -- who leads the NFL with 62 catches -- questionable for Sunday’s game, wideout Devin Aromashodu was asked if he might play a more expanded role.

“We play two different positions, with Percy in the slot, so my role doesn’t change too much,” said Aromashodu, who has 10 receptions this season. “But I’d probably expect to see a couple more balls since Percy is out. He’s had quite a workload for us, so caught a lot of passes for us, so I’m expecting a bigger load this week.”

Not happening yet

Coach Leslie Frazier said wideout Jerome Simpson was “not the same player” because of his leg injury, and Simpson agreed.

“It’s held me back a little bit, but I’m feeling better each week,” Simpson said.

Simpson was touted as the Vikings’ deep threat, but has only four catches for 59 yards in the three games since his return from injury.

“We just keep working,” he said of the team’s deep passing attack. “When it happens, it’s gonna happen."

Lions efficent

The Vikings beat the Lions 20-13 on Sept. 30, getting a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Harvin and a 77-yard punt return TD from Marcus Sherels.

The Lions offense has turned it around since then, said Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.

“We’re just being more efficient, just continuing drives on third down, and pushing in at the end with touchdowns in the red zone, that’s been the big difference.”

The Lions beat Jacksonville 31-14 last week, with Mikel Leshoure rushing for three first-half TDs. Calvin Johnson had seven catches for 129 yards, shaking off nagging injuries that have limited his production a bit. Last year, he had 96 catches for a league-high 1,681 yards. At the midway point this year, he is at 48 for 767.

Johnson missed practice Wednesday because of a sore knee, but is expected to play on Sunday.

“Defenses are doing a lot to try to take him away, and we were hurting the defenses with some other guys,” Stafford said. “Obviously he’s not a true 100 percent, but he’s feeling better now and that’s good for us.”
 

Etc.

Vikings rookie Blair Walsh leads the NFC in field goal percentage (.950), is tied for first with five field goals of 50 yards or longer, and second in touchbacks (35).

Cornerback Antoine Winfield leads NFL cornerbacks in tackles (67) and tackles for loss (7.0).
 

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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 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

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