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.


Not dwelling on dropped passes

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Vikings, Bears, Packers, Vikings coaches, Leslie Frazier, Vikings injury report, Vikings offense, Vikings players, Chris Kluwe, Leslie Frazier Updated: November 28, 2012 - 1:54 PM

 No sulking allowed

As the Vikings prepare for the Packers this week, head coach Leslie Frazier made one thing clear. When it comes to what happened with the receiving corps last week in Chicago, there is no room for sulking.

So why did Jerome Simpson look so subdued in the locker room?

“I’m obviously down, because I’m used to making those plays,” he said.
Those plays would be those catches Simpson didn’t make last Sunday in the Vikings’ loss to the Bears. Simpson had three drops of Christian Ponder passes, three of the at least five dropped passes by Vikings receivers.

So, yes, Simpson was affected by a difficult day.

“We talked a little bit,” Frazier said of Simpson. “We’ve got to move on. We know he’s more than capable of making plays for us. We need him to do that this week. We don’t need nobody sulking or looking back or being down. We need everybody energized and ready to have their best game of the season.”

Since returning from suspension Simpson has dealt with leg soreness the team said was connected to a back issue. Simpson is sixth on the team with 12 receptions for 138 yards and no touchdowns. Simpson insisted again Wednesday that he is 100 percent healthy, but admitted he isn't playing up to his normal standards.

He had more drops {three} than catches {one} in Chicago.And while it clearly bothers him, Simpson said he wouldn’t let it affect him going forward.

“It’s a part of being in this profession,” he said. “Being a great player. If you just hold on to your mistakes, that’s when you start to fall. I always find a way to bounce back. So that’s what I’m going to do, and just get better this week.”

Simpson and rookie Jarius Wright both said the receivers would spend more time working with the Jugs machine that can send a football at a high speed towards a receiver. “We haven’t been doing as much gun work as we probably should have been doing,” said Wright, who also had a drop in Chicago. “So we’re getting back to it.”

As for Simpson, he said he also needed to get back to basics when it comes to catching the ball. “I let the ball get too close to my body,” Simpson said. “I’m always used to being a hands catcher, and so the ball was getting too close to me. I have to go out and reach and grab the ball.”

And going forward? Simpson hasn’t had the season the team hoped for when it signed him during the off-season. “We’ve still got a lot of football left,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time. I have to be focused and resilient.”

 

The elements, again

Sunday’s game at Green Bay will be the Vikings’ last game outside in the regular season. And punter Chris Kluwe is just fine with that.

“The Chicago game, the Green Bay game, those are kind of the ones you circle on your calendar," he said. "Once they’re past it’s all good.”

In Chicago Kluwe had a wind-affected 23-yard punt in the first quarter. The Bears took advantage of good field position to drive for a field goal.

Kluwe finished the game with four punts for 162 yards, a 40.5-yard average with a 39-yard net. Still, he was compelled to defend his 23-yard effort, taking to Twitter to do so.

“I approached that punt the same way I approached the first punt {which went 53 yards), the third punt {42} and the fourth punt {44}," he said Wednesday. 

The problem was the wind. The Vikings were planning a kick to the right anyway because the wind was moving in that direction. But as the play unfolded, Kluwe said, there was a gust as he dropped the ball. “It was either go {more to the} right or miss it entirely,” he said. “I didn’t really want look like Sean Landeta.”

That was a historical reference to  Landeta who, playing for the Giants in a playoff game in Chicago after the 1985 season, whiffed on a punt near his own end zone due to a gust of wind. The Bears recovered it and scored.

Kluwe said Lambeau Field is a much better venue, wind-wise, than Soldier Field. “The thing with Soldier is most of the time it’s an inconsistent wind,” Kluwe said. “In Green Bay, generally, if it is windy it will be a fairly consistent wind, so you can plan on what to do.”

 

Feeling good

Both safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph have been cleared after sustaining concussions in Chicago, though Rudolph is still dealing with a shoulder issue. But Smith said he actually felt good enough to return to the Chicago game but was held out for precautionary reasons.

Smith got up after making a tackle early in the third quarter and clearly appeared to be having balance problems. He was taken into the locker room where, he said, he passed preliminary tests. “Once I got into the locker room I felt pretty normal,” Smith said. “Even the tests we did there, I passed. And I felt normal after the game. They just had to take the necessary precautions.”

Smith said he sustained one concussion while in college at Notre Dame. It came during the 2008 season, Harrison’s freshman year.

 

ETC.

--Cornerback Chris Cook said the rehab of the broken arm he sustained in the Vikings’ game with Tampa Bay Oct. 25. He said he still expects to be ready to return when he become eligible to be taken off injured reserve Dec. 23, the day the Vikings play at Houston.

 

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