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 position-by-position snapshot: Linebackers

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: May 3, 2014 - 9:14 AM

What to make of the linebacker situation right now? Well, Chad Greenway will start, and everything else is a mystery.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer got their first look at the unit during the voluntary three-day mini-camp this week. It was the only defensive position the Vikings really couldn’t make a big upgrade in the offseason outside of Jasper Brinkley’s one-year deal.

There’s three linebackers -- Audie Cole, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges -- that still have plenty to prove. Cole showed flashes of his ability at middle linebacker before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him out of the last game of the season.

Mauti finally had an offseason where he wasn’t recovering from a knee injury. Hodges didn’t get much time on defense during his rookie season in Leslie Frazier’s Cover 2.

Zimmer has held off public opinion on players until he’s had a chance to get around them. How much can he learn in three days?  Well, he said the mini-camp could help influence some draft decisions next week.

PROJECTED STARTERS: Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Audie Cole

DON’T FORGET ABOUT: While that unit above received first team 11-on-11 reps during the open portion of practice, the Penn State linebackers, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, aren’t out of the picture. Adam Zimmer rotated and mixed all the linebackers, and Mauti and Hodges will have a shot to earn a starting spot in the coming months.

LEVEL OF NEED: High. Outside of quarterback, it might be the second biggest need for the Vikings. There’s too many unproven players and Zimmer has the opportunity to upgrade the position in the draft.

FIVE PROSPECTS TO REMEMBER: OLB Khalil Mack, ILB C.J. Mosley, OLB Anthony Barr, OLB Kyle Van Noy, OLB Ryan Shazier

OUR BEST GUESS: They’ll likely look to add another linebacker to the mix in search of starting middle and weak side linebackers. If Mack’s there with the eighth overall pick (highly unlikely), that’d be a steal. Otherwise, Mosley or Van Noy would be good picks too.

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 64 3rd Qtr 10:16
Philadelphia 61
Houston 56 2nd Qtr 2:22
Boston 39
Portland 41 2nd Qtr 4:37
Atlanta 43
Sacramento 30 2nd Qtr 5:14
Cleveland 46
Toronto 49 2nd Qtr 5:25
Brooklyn 42
Dallas 7 1st Qtr 5:30
Miami 11
LA Clippers 15 1st Qtr 5:14
New Orleans 15
Golden State 8:00 PM
Utah
Chicago 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Pittsburgh 0 2nd Prd 6:21
New Jersey 0
St. Louis 2 2nd Prd 6:24
Carolina 1
Nashville 8:00 PM
Colorado
Buffalo 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Chicago 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 32 2nd Half 15:02
Canisius 37
Brown 46 2nd Half 6:04
Cornell 46
Siena 56 2nd Half 12:00
Manhattan 58
Marist 42 2nd Half 11:09
Niagara 40
Dartmouth 24 2nd Half 13:38
Penn 33
Oregon 10 1st Half 11:51
Arizona State 9
Yale 4 1st Half 12:15
Columbia 11
Monmouth 14 1st Half 11:06
Fairfield 15
IUPUI 8 1st Half 11:17
Western Ill 10
Oregon State 9:00 PM
Arizona
Kent State 9:00 PM
Buffalo
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 51 2nd Half 9:09
Providence 45
Cornell 45 2nd Half 10:11
Brown 34
Columbia 46 2nd Half 4:38
Yale 47
Coll of Charleston 39 2nd Half 6:49
Drexel 52
Penn 41 2nd Half 9:48
Dartmouth 25
Elon 30 2nd Half 15:20
James Madison 54
(19) Princeton 48 2nd Half 15:45
Harvard 30
(9) Florida State 55 2nd Half 11:22
Georgia Tech 42
Quinnipiac 53 2nd Half 11:57
Siena 41
Richmond 44 2nd Half 8:23
Rhode Island 42
Loyola-Chicago 38 2nd Half 16:12
Southern Ill 35
Georgetown 4 1st Half 13:15
DePaul 21
Villanova 17 1st Half 12:00
Marquette 12
Wichita State 11 1st Half 12:03
Northern Iowa 7
Xavier 17 1st Half 11:00
Creighton 14
Bradley 10 1st Half 12:50
Illinois State 6
Missouri State 11 1st Half 13:00
Drake 19
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
(11) Arizona State 8:00 PM
Colorado
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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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