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.


Ellison doesn't practice; Line's reps could increase

Posted by: Mark Craig under AFC Updated: September 19, 2013 - 4:35 PM

Rhett Ellison, the tight end/fullback who would be Adrian Peterson's primary lead blocker at fullback with Jerome Felton serving the third and final game of his league suspension, didn't practice again today because of a knee hyperextension.

Coach Leslie Frazier hasn't ruled Ellison out, but said he will assume that until he sees whether Ellison will be able to practice on Friday.

If Ellison can't play on Sunday against the Browns, undrafted rookie Zach Line will see his reps increase significantly.

"Zack would be the guy," Frazier said. "He's done a good job the first two games. And his snaps will probably go up a little bit because of rhett's absence. But we got some other ways we can get things done."

Also limited in today's padded practice were: NT Fred Evans (shoulder), MLB Erin Henderson (heel), FS Harrison Smith (shoulder), C John Sullivan (knee) and DT Kevin Williams (knee).

Out for the Browns is, of course, QB Brandon Weeden (thumb) and LB Quentin Groves (ankle). Limited for the Browns in today's practice were: OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf).

Unusual week for preparations:

Frazier spoke to reporters for the first time since the Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Colts on Wednesday.

"That was a little different," Frazier said. "We were watching tape and [Richardson] definitely was one of the guys we were preparing for from a defensive standpoint and then all of a sudden he's not there. You got to be ready to adjust."

Of course, the Browns also announced on Wednesday that No. 3 QB Brian Hoyer would start for the injured Weeden. The Vikings had been preparing for No. 2 QB Jason Campbell.

"Without question, [the changes] definitely throws you a curveball," Frazier said. "You don't know how much watching the tape of what they've been doing the first two weeks will really matter. It creates some, you're not sure. You just have to have some rules about what you're doing because you're probably going to have to adjust as the game goes on. It might not be what you saw on tape."

Frazier and his coaches also began watching tape of former Broncos running back Willis McGahee, whom the Browns signed on Thursday.

"You look at the system and we'll go back and look at a little bit of what he did in Denver," Frazier said. "We're somewhat familiar with him but we still need to go back and look at what he did last season to get a feel for him. You still have to look at the system, but you know the system is going to change a little bit."

Asked what he saw on McGahee, Frazier said, "He's a good back. He's been a good  back for a while."

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