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.


Shiancoe, Johnson injuries are 'mild'

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Anthony Herrera, Ben Leber, Leslie Frazier, Tyrell Johnson, Visanthe Shiancoe Updated: August 9, 2011 - 5:16 PM

MANKATO -- Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and safety Tyrell Johnson did not practice Tuesday, but coach Leslie Frazier describes both players' hamstring injuries as mild.

"They should be fine," Frazier said.

Frazier said that Johnson could return to practice on Wednesday, but Shiancoe would sit out a big longer because he was hurt on Monday.

Frazier also sounded as if he was leaning toward holding out Shiancoe from the preseason opener on Saturday at Tennessee. “I would think with Visanthe we would be very cautious and we’ll just how it does tomorrow [before] making the decision," Frazier said.

As for the status of right guard Anthony Herrera, Frazier said the team likely will make a decision on him after the third preseason game. Herrera, who is recovering from ACL surgery last winter, is on the physically-unable-to-perform list and at this point can be brought off at any point. But if he's moved to the reserve/PUP list to start the season that would mean he would have to sit out the first six weeks of the regular season.

That means Chris DeGeare very well could be the starting right guard on Sept. 11 for the regular-season opener at San Diego.

Decisions, decisions

Frazier and the coaching staff are planning to meet tonight to discuss how they will approach Saturday's preseason opener as far as giving out playing time.

"We’ve got a set number of plays that we want to get the starters," Frazier said. "We’ll talk a little bit more about it tonight and settle on it and let them know tomorrow. But we have a decision tomorrow."

Although the offensive starters need work together, Frazier does not see himself leaving those players on the field for a long period Saturday.

“I don’t think so," he said. "We want to get Donovan [McNabb] and some of the guys some rest, but at the same time we’ve got three games after this one. We want to get the timing down, but I think we have enough to get the legs under them a little bit, but we don’t have to play a half or play two quarters or play a quarter and a half right now. We’ve got time.”

Very excused absence

Safety Husain Abdullah will miss practice Wednesday but Frazier has no issue with that.

Abdullah will attend President Barack Obama's Iftar dinner that celebrates Ramadan at the White House on Wednesday night.

"For this occasion, no," it wasn't a tough choice, Frazier said. "A chance to meet the President, visit the White House. I told him I hope in February or next May or whenever it is we’ll be going as a team. We’re excited for him. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity and a great honor.”

Said Abdullah: "I found out last Friday, I think. I actually got a call from my brother and he was like, 'Did you get an email from your PR guy?' And I was like, 'No …' And he was like, 'Well, you need to go talk to him.' And I talked to him, and it was an invite to a dinner at the White House."

Abdullah said he has a 10 a.m. flight from the Twin Cities to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Ramadan started on Aug. 1 and ends on Aug. 29 and that means Abdullah does not eat or drink between sunup and sundown. The Vikings are aware of this and have helped Abdullah in recent years with his nutrition and to remain hydrated.

"It's the same plan as last year – hydrate, 2 a.m. get the protein shake, kind of a meal-replacement thing, and I'll eat some food if I've got it, and just have dinner and breakfast," Abdullah said. He also said the new CBA rules which only allow one practice a day, plus the cooler conditions in Mankato during camp, have been a big help. 

"It takes some mental toughness," Abdullah  said. "I'm starting to get used to it. I've been doing it since I was 7 – I'm 6 now. It's not overly difficult."

Gipson asked to be waived

Cornerback Marcell Gipson, who left the team last week after the death of his grandmother, was waived after asking to be released, according to Frazier.

"He has some things going on with his personal life, losing a [grandparent]," Frazier said. "He felt like he needed to stay home, get a job and take care of his family. I respect that. But it gives us a chance if he changes his mind we can sign him again and maybe be on our practice squad or whatever if we’re interested in doing that."

The Vikings could have kept Gipson's rights but that would have ended his chance to play this season.

"[If we] put him on the non-football list, then he would have had to sit out an entire year, we couldn’t touch him, no other team could touch him for the entire year," Frazier said. "So this gives us some flexibility if he changes his mind and says, ‘You know what coach? I kind of want to come back and try pro football again.’ We’d have a chance in 2011.”

Leber signs

If Erin Henderson was worried that Ben Leber might return and take back the starting job at weak side linebacker, he doesn't have to be concerned anymore. Leber, according to ESPN's John Clayton, has signed a $1.25 million, one-year deal with the St. Louis Rams. Leber reportedly visited the Seattle Seahawks on Monday.

 

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