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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Houston - LP: D. Keuchel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 4
Detroit - LP: D. Price 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 1
Arizona 0 Bottom 6th Inning
Washington 0
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 0 Delayed
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg
LA Angels - M. Shoemaker 6:10 PM
Boston - R. De La Rosa
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
San Diego - T. Ross 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Philadelphia
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
Indiana
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Minnesota
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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 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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