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.


Vikings experimenting with slot options in case Antoine Winfield can't play

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Packers, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen Updated: January 2, 2013 - 3:34 PM

The Vikings seems to have little doubt that veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield will play Saturday night in Green Bay. But even if Winfield can start, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to finish, still dealing with a fractured right hand that is significantly swollen and grew so painful Sunday that he left the game for good in the second quarter.

Marcus Sherels supplanted Winfield as the slot corner thereafter and may still be the Vikings’ most likely option there if Winfield can’t play or is limited this weekend. But defensive coordinator Alan Williams admitted that he is shuffling things around in practice this week and has tried everyone from Josh Robinson to A.J. Jefferson to a few of the team’s safeties as the Vikings look for reinforcements to their passing defense.

Reflections of …

When the Vikings left Green Bay at 6-6 following a Week 13 loss to the Packers, most outsiders figured it would be a longshot for the Vikings to win out and reach the playoffs. Jared Allen? He thought back to 2008 when the Vikings were 5-5 and in a crowded NFC North race yet won five of their final six to reach the postseason.

Said Allen: “You start looking around your team and realizing, hey, we’ve got a better team here than 2008. We’re deeper. We have more depth, and we’re injury-free. And we’ve got, especially on the defensive side, some guys playing at a high level. And our back end is playing really well.”

Allen said the Vikings channeled that big-picture into focus and went about plucking off each of their final four wins as independent lines on a checklist.

Truly special

It might have seemed like special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was kidding Wednesday when he mentioned the constant lobbying that Adrian Peterson does to find a role on special teams. He wasn’t.

“He always asks,” Priefer insisted. “He’s a football player. Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome. I always say yes. And then I ask the head coach and he says no.”

Peterson confirmed his desire to get on the field more with a role outside of the offense.

“Yeah, for the past two years I have been trying to get in on field goal block,” he said. “Come in off the edge. You know. It’s just going to take one block for them to really be [like], ‘OK, you know what, let’s take the chance and let you go out there and get it done.’ …  I believe in having your best players on the field, especially in critical times. You never know what can happen. That’s what I would do.”

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2014 preseason     
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