Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
The Brian Urlacher-to-the-Vikings rumor reading has moved from tepid to cool today after Vikings coach Leslie Frazier shot down Tuesday's report by a Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist that Urlacher was leaning toward signing with the team.
Frazier said today on NFL AM that the Vikings would continue to plan on using players already on their team at the middle linebacking spot.
Said Frazier: "Brian has been a great player in our league for a long, long time. He was a thorn in our side for many years. At this point we want to look at the guys on our roster, give them a chance to compete for the middle linebacker position then we'll see where it takes us."
Erin Henderson continues to be the leading candidate to move from the outside to the middle for the Vikings.
Tuesday's report, along with the Vikings' rookie signings, can be found here.
Here's the transcript, courtesy of nfl.com, of Frazier's chat:
On if running back Adrian Peterson has wanted to work out too hard this offseason:
“It kind of happened not by his choice. He had the abdominal strain late in the season and that has kind of slowed him this offseason as far as being able to kick things into overdrive and doing things the way he wants to do it. It has slowed him down a little bit, but he just about back to 100% doing everything he needs to be able to do to be in the best possible shape for this season.”
On if the offseason moves were geared towards easing the workload of running back Adrian Peterson:
“We would like to be more balanced. We obviously pride ourselves on being able to run the football and being able to stop the run on defense but we think in order to take that next step, as a team and as an offense, we need to be able to create that balance by being able to pass the ball a little bit better. We think with the acquisition of Greg, along with what we did in the draft, and some of the other guys coming back – a healthy Jerome Simpson, our tight end Kyle Rudolph – we think we are going to be a better team throwing the football, which should, hopefully, open up more holes for Adrian Peterson.”
On quarterback Christian Ponder:
“This will be his third season, his second season as a full time starter. We are expecting him to take another step forward. We saw glimpses in the month in December – when we went 4-0 – of what he can be. We are really excited about some of the things we saw down the stretch of the season and we are looking for him to carry that over to our next season.”
On if the Vikings are interested in linebacker Brian Urlacher
“Brian has been a great player in our league for a long, long time. He has been a torn in our side for many years. At this point, we want to take a look at the guys on our roster, give them a chance to compete for the middle linebacker position and then we will see where it takes us.”
On new Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings:
“His experience jumps out at you for sure. Knowing where we are, at the receiver position, having a guy of his caliber – a Pro Bowl player, a great player in our league for a number of years now – his leadership, his experience, his big play ability, it’s still there. He was been banged up a bit the last couple of years but he is healthy now. We are looking forward to him having a great season in Minnesota.”
On the three first round draft picks: defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson:
“I like our guys. They are going to be good players for our football team. We are hoping they are going to have an impact this first season.”
On if the expects the first round picks to be week 1 starters:
“There is enough competition on our team where they don’t have to come in and start right away. But if that were to happen, it would be a good thing for our team. Each one will have a chance to start.”
On if defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is upset with how far he fell in the draft:
“He pretty excited about being a Minnesota Viking. Once you get to know Sharrif, you realize he is a very humble guy who kind of gets it for a young guy. He is not caught up on where he was taken. He is happy to be a Viking.”
The Vikings signed three draft picks -- linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins -- today.
Hodges was a fourth-round selection (120th overall), while Mauti (213th) and Dawkins (229th) were seventh rounders. Hodges and Mauti are from Penn State, while Dawkins played at Florida State.
The signings were announced by the team. Hodges posted his signing on Twitter. He called it the happiest moment of his life.
A video review of the Vikings picks, if you have a little time to watch, is here. Sid also broke down the Penn State linebackers here. (Just wanted to use "Sid broke down" in the context of Sid breaking down film. Not sure that line worked.)
Other Vikings notes:
Michael Sneed, who apparently is quite comfortable referring to herself in the third person, wrote: Sneed hears that former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher, whose stellar, longtime career with the Bears began with a growl and ended with a whimper, is getting close to finding a new pigskin playground. Sneed is told that Urlacher, whose decision to leave the Bears followed their offer of a $1.6 million renewal contract, has been talking to the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos. “It’s getting close to happening, but Brian is leaning toward heading to Minnesota and is talking a one to two year contract,” said a source close to Urlacher.
As they used to say on Hee Haw, we don't like to repeat rumors ... so you better listen closely the first time.
Here's Chris Kluwe from his appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" :
Here's Kluwe on "The Colbert Report":
Defensive end Lawrence Jackson and cornerback Jacob Lacey are now officially Minnesota Vikings. The team announced the signing of both veterans Monday morning, adding additional depth and reinforcement to their defense.
Jackson agreed to his contract with the Vikings in the middle of last week with the deal finalized today. He comes to the Twin Cities following a three-year stop in Detroit, where he played 37 games as a back-up end. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman had familiarity with Jackson from within the division and saw an opportunity to find another pass-rushing option as the Vikings head into the 2013 season with the team's top three ends -- Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen -- all in the final year of their contracts.
Spielman said on Friday that Jackson was given a one-year deal, which has been the organization's m.o. the past two offseasons with many of their second-tier free agent signings. That gives the Vikings a low-risk opportunity to look at Jackson as a pass rusher in 2013 as they then begin to decide what to do up front going forward with so much uncertainty surrounding the futures of Allen, Griffen and Robison.
Jackson, originally a first-round pick by Seattle in 2008, made 24 starts in his first two NFL seasons with the Seahawks. He has 19.5 career sacks to go along with 141 tackles. He was traded to Detroit in the summer of 2010 in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.
Lacey, meanwhile, also arrives from Detroit where he made nine starts last season, recording 36 tackles and a Week 11 interception of Aaron Rodgers.
Lacey began his career in Indianapolis, signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent following the 2009 draft. He spent three years there working with secondary coach Alan Williams, who is now entering his second season as the Vikings defensive coordinator.
As we noted this morning, the Vikings have been searching for solutions at slot corner since releasing Antoine Winfield last month and failing to re-sign him. Lacey may now find his opening to make a bid for that role.
-- The Vikings released punter T.J. Conley on Monday afternoon, two days after drafting left-footed punter Jeff Locke out of UCLA. Conley was signed in January as a street free agent. He was with the Jets in 2011 but cut before the start of last season and was out of the NFL during the 2012 season.
With Locke selected in the fifth round Saturday, veteran Chris Kluwe is widely figured to be on the ropes as the Vikings eye a new direction at the position.
Two of the Vikings' three seventh-round picks are in.
First, with the 213th overall pick, Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti. Mauti -- whose father and brother also played at Penn State -- was a very highly-touted player coming to Penn State. But a series of injuries derailed much of his college career. Among those injuries are three ACL tears. The first, sustained before the 2009 season, wiped out that year for him. He came back with a very strong 2010 season, with 67 tackles -- 5.5 for loss -- and two sacks. But another ACL tear four games into the 2011 season ended that year.
He came back to play in 2012. He had 96 tackles and three interceptions before yet another ACL tear, sustained against Indiana, ended the season with one game to go. After the final injury he sent a letter to every NFL team expressing his love for the game and determination to return from yet another surgery and play in the NFL.
Mauti, who played both strongside and middle linebacker at Penn State, said he hopes to be cleared for practice in time for training camp.
When healthy Mauti is considered a very instinctual player, stout at the point of attack. Lack of speed and his injury history will work against him.
With the 214th pick the Vikings took North Carolina guard Travis Bond, a huge (6-6, 329-pound) right guard.
Bond was the starter at right guard his final two seasons at North Carolina. His size and strength make him an intriguing prospect, but his tendency to play high and difficultly using his hands effectively made him last until the seventh round.
And, finally, with the 229th pick in the draft, the Vikings drafted Florida State defensive tackle Everett Dawkins.
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