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.


Sherels could replace Jefferson

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under On the road, Vikings, Bears, Leslie Frazier, Vikings defense, Vikings injury report, Vikings players, Brian Robison, Chris Kluwe, Leslie Frazier Updated: December 10, 2012 - 3:24 PM

The concussion sustained by cornerback A.J. Jefferson against the Chicago Bears could test the team’s depth at the position this week.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the team will have to wait and see if Jefferson is able to pass the tests necessary to play in St. Louis Sunday. Veteran Chris Cook is not going to be available to come back from his broken arm until the Dec. 23 game at Houston at the earliest. So who plays?

“It would be Marcus,” Frazier said of Marcus Sherels, the backup who has been a punt- and kickoff-returner this season. “And then, of course, we have Brandon Burton as well. So between those two, they’d get the bulk of the reps. And we’d define that as the week goes on.”

Sherels has started three games in his career, all coming last season. Burton has appeared in 14 games the past two seasons, starting one.

 

Praising the kids

One big reason for the improved Vikings record is the play of rookie cornerback Josh Robinson and rookie safety Harrison Smith. Both intercepted passes Sunday. Smith returned his for a score, his second pick six of the season. Robinson returned his pick to the Chicago 5-yard line, setting up the team’s second score.

“We’re making such improvement, and we’re doing it with a lot of young, young guys,” defensive end Brian Robison said. “Normally it takes two, three years before you start seeing results like that. Guys like Harrison and Josh Robinson, the plays they made {Sunday}? And you look at the improvement {safety} Jamarca Sanford has made this year? He looks nothing like he did last year. Guys are making improvements and it’s helping out the whole team.”

 

Road woes

With two consecutive road games coming up, and with the Vikings believing they have to win out to earn a playoff berth, the job is simple. The Vikings have to learn to win on the road.

This season Minnesota is 6-1 at home, 1-5 on the road, with the only victory coming at Detroit Sept. 30. Over the past two seasons the Vikings are a combined 3-11 on the road.

So what will it take to win on the road?

“I think if we can play a clean football game, where we are – for a change – plus when it comes to turnovers,” Frazier said. “Even in some of our games on the road we’ve executed well at times, but we haven’t done a good job when it comes to winning that turnover battle and it has cost us. Our margin for error is not very big, and when it happens it become very problematic for our team. So I’d love to go on the road, play some clean football, and see what the results would be.”

Said receiver Michael Jenkins: “We’ve got to find a way to play better on the road. I don’t know, {maybe} we could take the Metrodome name wherever we go and put it on other peoples’ stadiums.”

 

An important moment?

Frazier again emphasized the positive with quarterback Christian Ponder, pointing to what he called a key drive that began late in the third quarter.

The Vikings, leading by 14 points, got the ball at their 1-yard line with 48 seconds left in the third quarter. On the drive Ponder had two third-down throws to Jenkins on third downs, both of which resulted in first downs. The first was an 8-down completion on third-and-7 from the 4-yard line. Six plays later Ponder hit Jenkins for 10 yards on third-and-6.

The Vikings drive ended on the Chicago 41, resulting in no points. But it did have a big impact on field position. Chris Kluwe’s ensuing punt was downed at the Chicago 5.

“What he did in that fourth quarter, when we had those third-down conversions, that was big for our football team,” Frazier said. “It allowed us to possess the football. We were in a backed-up situation. … It was a major part of our being able to win that game.”

 

Etc.

One of Robison’s most enjoyable moments Sunday came when he led Harrison Smith into the end zone after Smith’s third-quarter interception. The fact that he got to engage Bears QB Jay Cutler in the process made it even better. “Any time you can throw a block you feel like an offensive player,” Robison said. “A fullback-type. So I got to see what Jerome Felton feels like."

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Dallas 74 3rd Qtr 7:25
Orlando 51
Sacramento 71 3rd Qtr 6:58
Indiana 56
Toronto 65 3rd Qtr
Washington 50
Houston 44 2nd Qtr 0:45
Detroit 56
Philadelphia 26 2nd Qtr 3:28
Atlanta 45
Cleveland 23 1st Qtr 2:55
Minnesota 17
Oklahoma City 19 1st Qtr 1:16
Memphis 22
Portland 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
San Antonio
Charlotte 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 0 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 1
NY Islanders 1 FINAL
Detroit 4
Arizona 2 FINAL
Ottawa 7
Los Angeles 0 2nd Prd 4:48
Boston 0
Florida 0 2nd Prd 5:26
New Jersey 2
Carolina 1 2nd Prd 4:57
NY Rangers 2
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 11:05
Philadelphia 1
Dallas 1 2nd Prd 12:53
Winnipeg 0
Columbus 0 2nd Prd
Tampa Bay 1
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Boston College 49 FINAL
Clemson 64
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Eastern Mich 69
NC State 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
Iowa 63
Stony Brook 48 FINAL
New Hampshire 63
Notre Dame 72 FINAL
Pittsburgh 76
Providence 66 FINAL
St Johns 75
Davidson 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 75
Xavier 82 FINAL
Seton Hall 90
Tulane 37 FINAL
Temple 55
Auburn 63 FINAL
Tennessee 71
Texas Tech 58 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Arkansas 56 FINAL
Florida 57
Penn State 58 FINAL
Illinois 60
Lipscomb 73 FINAL
Stetson 75
South Florida 71 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Bradley 58 FINAL
Indiana State 64
UMass Lowell 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Green Bay 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 76
Georgetown 67 FINAL
Creighton 40
Coll of Charleston 68 FINAL
Delaware 71
Villanova 68 FINAL
DePaul 55
Vermont 65 FINAL
Hartford 46
TCU 66 FINAL
Iowa State 83
Kennesaw St 51 FINAL
Jacksonville 50
Kansas State 57 FINAL
Kansas 68
Boston Univ 86 FINAL
Lehigh 89
Illinois State 48 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
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Maine 59
Butler 72 FINAL
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LSU 67 FINAL
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Mount St Marys 77 FINAL
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Richmond 64 FINAL
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Arkansas State 43 FINAL
Georgia State 74
Loyola-Maryland 77 FINAL
Army 71
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Belmont 71
Bethune-Cookman 61 FINAL
Florida A&M 44
Valparaiso 70 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 65
UAB 65 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 57
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Evansville 65 FINAL
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Rutgers 64 FINAL
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Ball State 73 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 79
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alcorn State 51
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Drexel 85
Coastal Carolina 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 66
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Howard 64
William & Mary 84 FINAL
James Madison 65
North Carolina 68 FINAL
Louisville 78
Coppin State 82 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 92
Ole Miss 67 FINAL
Missouri 47
Wichita State 54 FINAL
Northern Iowa 70
Loyola Marymount 76 FINAL
Pacific 71
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Radford 73
George Washington 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 59
Bryant 71 FINAL
Robert Morris 68
Long Island 64 FINAL
St Francis-NY 81
Fair-Dickinson 63 FINAL
St Francis-PA 68
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Saint Louis 56
Georgia 50 FINAL
South Carolina 67
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Wagner 86
SIU Edwardsville 54 FINAL
Eastern Ill 57
Ohio 69 FINAL
Central Mich 74
Eastern Ky 66 FINAL
Morehead State 57
Incarnate Word 69 FINAL
Nicholls 58
Campbell 63 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 70
Vanderbilt 58 FINAL
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UNC Greensboro 73
Detroit 74 FINAL
Milwaukee 78
Idaho 95 FINAL
Eastern Wash 98
Marshall 57 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 81
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Houston Baptist 52 FINAL
Sam Houston St 63
Louisiana 72 FINAL
Texas State 63
Denver 39 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Oral Roberts 73 FINAL
South Dakota 72
South Alabama 61 FINAL
ULM 67
Texas 60 FINAL
Baylor 83
Citadel 73 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Fresno State 57 FINAL
Colorado State 80
Yale 65 FINAL
Cornell 57
Ark-Pine Bluff 65 FINAL
Grambling St 53
Nebraska 42 FINAL
Minnesota 60
Purdue 68 FINAL
Northwestern 60
Alabama A&M 83 2nd Half 3:50
Prairie View 54
Dartmouth 53 FINAL
Princeton 64
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
Delaware State 74 FINAL
SC State 78
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Norfolk State 63
NC A&T 57 2nd Half 0:57
Savannah State 50
Akron 41 2nd Half 10:34
Bowling Green 44
Colgate 50 2nd Half 9:50
Bucknell 49
FIU 69 2nd Half 7:41
Charlotte 57
Brown 61 2nd Half 8:58
Columbia 62
George Mason 30 2nd Half 9:41
Duquesne 42
NC Central 53 2nd Half 9:00
East Tenn St 44
Saint Peters 34 2nd Half 11:42
Iona 31
Alabama 40 2nd Half 11:29
Kentucky 55
Char Southern 49 2nd Half 11:50
Liberty 42
Hawaii 39 2nd Half 11:48
Long Beach State 43
New Orleans 27 2nd Half 15:00
McNeese State 40
Lafayette 68 2nd Half 3:40
Navy 63
Elon 35 2nd Half 11:30
Northeastern 55
Fla Atlantic 44 2nd Half 9:44
Old Dominion 49
Harvard 53 2nd Half 11:48
Penn 22
La Salle 44 2nd Half 11:24
St Bonaventure 39
Furman 40 2nd Half 8:57
Samford 48
Duke 34 2nd Half 11:25
Virginia 43
Mercer 46 2nd Half 6:04
Wofford 42
Northern Ky 42 2nd Half 14:00
Fla Gulf Coast 52
USC Upstate 56 2nd Half 11:00
North Florida 56
Longwood 50 2nd Half 11:00
Presbyterian 36
Ark-Little Rock 28 2nd Half
Ga Southern 33
Abilene Christian 44 2nd Half 16:00
Lamar 46
TX A&M-CC 23 2nd Half 17:50
Stephen F Austin 27
SE Missouri St 18 1st Half 12:01
Austin Peay 14
CS-Northridge 20 1st Half 9:19
UC Riverside 16
Towson 21 1st Half 10:12
Hofstra 20
UT Martin 11 1st Half 16:00
Murray State 7
San Jose St 4 1st Half 10:32
New Mexico 21
Rice 19 1st Half 10:46
North Texas 17
Toledo 21 1st Half 9:43
Northern Ill 15
Oklahoma 9 1st Half 12:16
Oklahoma State 15
San Francisco 18 1st Half 8:20
San Diego 24
Utah State 11 1st Half 8:13
San Diego St 13
Northwestern St 22 1st Half 9:50
SE Louisiana 20
UCF 14 1st Half 11:00
SMU 17
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Alcorn State 51
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Iona 58
Bucknell 41 FINAL
Colgate 54
North Dakota 69 FINAL
Idaho State 75
Ark-Little Rock 58 FINAL
Georgia Southern 44
BYU 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 56
Gonzaga 85 FINAL
Portland 63
Pacific 84 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 61
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Lamar 76
Colorado State 49 FINAL
Fresno State 53
New Mexico 64 FINAL
San Jose St 62
UC Davis 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 54
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San Francisco 69
New Orleans 58 FINAL
McNeese State 82
TX A&M-CC 55 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 64
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Florida Atlantic 44
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Belmont 59
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Idaho 95
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Lipscomb 77
Washington 58 FINAL
California 82
USC 35 FINAL
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Western Ill 59
Northwestern St 52 FINAL
SE Louisiana 58
SE Missouri St 62 FINAL
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Montana State 63
Columbia 76 FINAL
Brown 85
Charlotte 81 FINAL
FIU 62
Morgan State 77 FINAL
Howard 64
(19) Princeton 83 FINAL
Dartmouth 65
Penn 74 FINAL
Harvard 69
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Murray State 85
Troy 67 FINAL
TX-Arlington 70
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Nevada 45
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Seattle 51
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VA Commonwealth 47
Cal-Irvine 48 2nd Half 5:10
Cal Poly 64
Fla Gulf Coast 52 2nd Half 8:49
Northern Ky 37
Southern Utah 31 2nd Half
Northern Ariz 23
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Illinois-Chicago 11
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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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