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.


Frazier hasn't spoken to Ballard in a week

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: September 4, 2013 - 1:10 PM

Coach Leslie Frazier has not spoken to Christian Ballard in a week and is now assuming the backup defensive tackle will not play this season.

"I think you have to approach it that way," Frazier said today. "We have to get these guys ready to play who are here. They're practicing every day and we're moving forward."

Frazier said there is nothing new from their conversation a week ago. Ballard left the team for personal reasons during training camp and remains on the active/left squad reserve list.

"If he decides he wants to come back [to the NFL], he has to go through us," Frazier said.

Frazier texts Winfield: Frazier said he hasn't spoken to recently retired Antoine Winfield, but he did text the former Vikings cornerback to "try and encourage him."

Asked if he thinks Winfield is 100 percent committed to retirement, Frazier said, "I have no idea. We haven't spoken so I really don't have any idea."

One thing is clear. Unlike former Vikings coach Brad Childress, who flew Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell to Mississippi to talk Brett Favre out of retirement in 2010, Frazier does not believe in twisting a guy's arm to return to the field.

"No," he said. "If a guy's retired, you got to let him go through what he's going through. You don't want to be talking him out of retirement if that's what he wants to do."

Frazier said he'll be there to help Winfield in any way he'd like.

"Just to encourage him to be what he wants to be," Frazier said. "If it's retirement, good luck in retirement. If you ever want to talk, let's talk about taking that next step after your career ends because it's a big difference going from playing for 15 years almost to going back to being just a regular citizen. It's a transition and a lot of players struggle with that transition."

Williams' knee has `really improved': Frazier said defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who has been sidelined nearly two weeks because of a severely strained right knee, is "really improving and has made a lot of progress." Frazier said Williams "probably" will have to do some work in practice by Friday in order for the team to put him on the field on Sunday. We'll update Williams and the team's other injuries after today's practice.

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Atlanta - WP: E. Stults 4 FINAL
Detroit - LP: J. Chamberlain 2
Washington - LP: X. Cedeno 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Wacha 6
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 18
Baltimore 6 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Miami - LP: D. Haren 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: R. Montero 7
San Diego 6 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
San Francisco 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 8
Colorado 2 FINAL
Oakland 11
LA Angels - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 5
Cleveland 4 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Texas 7
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 2
Toronto 7 FINAL
Houston 4
Minnesota - LP: C. Johnson 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Masterson 14
Boston 116 FINAL
Charlotte 104
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
Philadelphia 111
Houston 96 FINAL
Toronto 99
Milwaukee 88 FINAL
Atlanta 101
Sacramento 83 FINAL
Memphis 97
Utah 104 FINAL
Minnesota 84
Phoenix 86 FINAL
Portland 109
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Montreal 3
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Calgary 5 FINAL
Dallas 3
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Chicago 4
Edmonton 4 FINAL
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(1) Connecticut 91
(6) Tennessee 48 FINAL
(4) Maryland 58
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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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