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.


Spielman Part I: On Peterson's recovery, a playoff chase, building through the draft

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin, Vikings draft Updated: November 14, 2012 - 11:46 AM

In a 40-minute session with print reporters Wednesday morning, Vikings general manager delivered what amounted to a casual “state of the team” address. Spielman discussed everything from Adrian Peterson’s incredible recovery to the Vikings’ potential playoff push to the contract situations of receiver Percy Harvin and head coach Leslie Frazier. Here are some Spielman highlights from that session, in the first of three parts.

PART I

On what he saw in Peterson heading into the 2007 NFL Draft …

“You knew the unique skill set that you saw scouting him. There was no question about that. And then the more we spent time around him at the combine and we had him here for a top-30 visit, as talented as he was, he had all those extra elements that came with the talent to make him potentially be something unique in this league. Because you see a lot of guys who are more than talented enough to excel at this level but that ancillary thing -- the drive to be successful, the drive to be the best, the drive to win a championship -- all those things came out when we interviewed him. I don't know how those rumors got out about his collar bone before the draft. But we were very fortunate that he did slip to No. 7 because he was, at the time, the No. 1 player on our board that year. To get the opportunity to get someone with that skill set and that mental makeup we were very fortunate.”

On what Peterson has shown in rushing for more than 1,100 yards in his first 10 backs after major ACL and MCL rehab … 

“The biggest thing was, I knew when we spoke to him and the injury occurred, the first thing that came out of his mouth was 'I'm going to get better than I was before this injury.' No one ever envisioned that. But that's what makes Adrian so unique and so special. He put in his mind that he was going to come back and not only come back but be better than he was before the injury. As we go through this last part of the season and how he's performed so far, he seems to be getting better and better each week. I think over the last two or three weeks he is a better player than he was before the injury.I think he sets a great example of what he did this off-season and how determined he was. I think that filters down. But I also know physically he's probably unique in how he was able to come back

On how a 2012 Vikings team with such low outside expectations is now in a playoff chase …

“I think coming into this season, no one had high expectations for this football team. But I know internally we had very high expectations for ourselves. I think every year you go into training camp you better have high expectations for your football team or why are you in this? Why do you want to play the games? But I think the one thing you've got to credit, I think you have to credit the coaching staff because we knew we were going to have a young team. We knew we were going to have a lot of first and second year players playing for us. I think you have to credit the veteran leadership on this team –the Jared Allens, the Antoine Winfields, the Kevin Williams of the world – knowing they are going to bring these young guys along as well. So I think it's a combination of things, and we've done some good things this season, but I know there's some room that we still [can get better]. And Leslie has talked about it, we still need to improve and we still need to get better. And I still think, what I said in the beginning of the season was you want to see and evaluate each week kind of where you are at. And you are going to have some setbacks, you are going to have some growing pains. We've gone through some of that. But are the guys continuing to progress? Are we a better team in Week 1? Are we a better team Week 5? Are we a better team Week 10? Are we going to be even a better team at the end of the season? And that's kind of what you are hoping to see as we go through this thing. But we still have a ways to go to get better. We still need to get improvement. That's the attitude you have to have, I think.”

On whether he was tempted to wheel and deal before the Week 8 trade deadline passed …

“No, I think our philosophy and my philosophy that I believe in is that you continue to build this through the draft. We're looking forward -- I know our scouts are coming down to our final couple weeks here on the fall scouting. Our scouts are coming in in December, we're getting ready to start our meetings for the draft. Every year, this is the time of year your stomach starts to get excited because you know what's coming up here -- not only during the season, but what's coming up this offseason. With the systems that we have in place and some of the stuff we’ve implemented over the last two years and last year, I'm very excited about continuing and getting ready to improve this roster.”

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