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.


Frazier hasn't spoken to Ballard in a week

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: September 4, 2013 - 1:10 PM

Coach Leslie Frazier has not spoken to Christian Ballard in a week and is now assuming the backup defensive tackle will not play this season.

"I think you have to approach it that way," Frazier said today. "We have to get these guys ready to play who are here. They're practicing every day and we're moving forward."

Frazier said there is nothing new from their conversation a week ago. Ballard left the team for personal reasons during training camp and remains on the active/left squad reserve list.

"If he decides he wants to come back [to the NFL], he has to go through us," Frazier said.

Frazier texts Winfield: Frazier said he hasn't spoken to recently retired Antoine Winfield, but he did text the former Vikings cornerback to "try and encourage him."

Asked if he thinks Winfield is 100 percent committed to retirement, Frazier said, "I have no idea. We haven't spoken so I really don't have any idea."

One thing is clear. Unlike former Vikings coach Brad Childress, who flew Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell to Mississippi to talk Brett Favre out of retirement in 2010, Frazier does not believe in twisting a guy's arm to return to the field.

"No," he said. "If a guy's retired, you got to let him go through what he's going through. You don't want to be talking him out of retirement if that's what he wants to do."

Frazier said he'll be there to help Winfield in any way he'd like.

"Just to encourage him to be what he wants to be," Frazier said. "If it's retirement, good luck in retirement. If you ever want to talk, let's talk about taking that next step after your career ends because it's a big difference going from playing for 15 years almost to going back to being just a regular citizen. It's a transition and a lot of players struggle with that transition."

Williams' knee has `really improved': Frazier said defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who has been sidelined nearly two weeks because of a severely strained right knee, is "really improving and has made a lot of progress." Frazier said Williams "probably" will have to do some work in practice by Friday in order for the team to put him on the field on Sunday. We'll update Williams and the team's other injuries after today's practice.

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