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.


Kalil holds his own against Allen

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier Updated: July 30, 2012 - 7:20 PM

With thoughts of a nearby adult-beverage tap dancing in our heads, here's some of what we learned on Day 1 of the Vikings in full pads ...

FIRST DOWN: Matt Kalil not only looks like he was built to play left tackle, it seems as though he might also be able to do it at a high level in the NFL.That's the initial reaction after Day 1 of the Kalil-Jared Allen matchup passed with pretty much a fizzle because Kalil held his own for the most part.

Unlike last year, when Allen ran circles around Charlie Johnson on Johnson's first practice, there were no glaringly dominant plays one way of the other between Kalil and Allen.

"Good matchup," coach Leslie Frazier said. "Looking forward to watching that over time. It looked like Matt held his own for the most part. There were a few times that Jared got around him. But that's to be expected for the most part."

When asked to judge his performance, Kalil, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, said: "It was a good first day. There's always something I can improve on. I was rusty on some things. You only get better at those things by practicing in pads. I'm looking forward to getting better every day."

SECOND DOWN: During the afternoon practice, it was announced that former Vikings linebacker Matt Blair will become the 20th member of the team's Ring of Honor. He'll be inducted at halftime of the Oct. 25 game between the Vikings and the Buccaneers at Mall of America Field.

"It's an honor, for one thing, to be inducted into the Ring of Honor," said Blair, a six-time Pro Bowl selection. "It's one of those things that you'll look back in a lifetime and [while] you work hard, you don't get there because of yourself. You get there because of your teammates. The guys I played with, the Purple People Eaters, that was huge."

Blair, who ranks second in team history in tackles (1,452) and first in blocked kicks (20), now spends his time in the Twin Cities doing two of the things he loves most, playing golf and taking photos. He'll be playing in Tuesday's 3M Championship pro-am at the TPC of the Twin Cities in Blaine.

THIRD DOWN: The transition from defensive end to weak-side linebacker is not going to happen overnight for Everson Griffen. He's still one of the best young defensive talents on the team. But he's also trying to do something incredibly hard, so he's going to have days like he did today. He's going to get out of position and get flattened in space by a third-string center named Quentin Saulsberry. He's going to be a step slow trying to get to his assigned guy, fullback Ryan D'Imperio, on a pass to the right flat that went for a touchdown near the goal-line. If anyone can make that transition at this size, it's Griffen. Just don't expect it to be a smooth one. That's why Griffen is likely to be stuck on the third team for awhile, and could end up back at defensive end at some point.

FOURTH DOWN: It was assumed that Frazier would give both Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz at least one preseason start apiece as they compete for the starting right guard job. Turns out that's a false assumption, said Frazier, who added their their starts will be determined by how they practice. Fusco is slightly ahead of Schwartz in a battle that's still likely to including Fusco starting the first preseason game and Schwartz starting the second one. ... In the only transaction of the day, the Vikings added Chris Stroud, a rookie cornerback from Webber International, after placing rookie cornerback Nick Taylor on the waived/injured list. Taylor will have major shoulder surgery and is done for the season. Stroud worked out for the Vikings and was at the team's rookie mini-camp in May.

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